Catalog 158, A
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. (Advice). Take My Advice. An Archive of Unpublished Advice from Writers.
1987-1992. In 2002, James Harmon edited Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two
, the compiled wisdom of more than 70 writers, artists, critics and other notable figures. Harmon had begun his project more than an decade earlier but was waylaid by negotiations with publishers over the advisors and advice to be included in the book. This archive includes 16 manuscript or typescript responses not included in the book
, by Edward Albee, Paul Auster, Nicholson Baker, Rick Bass, Jim Burke, Frederick Busch, Evan Connell, Roald Dahl, Herbert Gold, Witold Gordon, Thom Gunn, Barry Lopez, Jill McCorkle, Walker Percy, Hubert Selby, and Tom Wolfe. Each response is signed by its author
. Edward Albee offers an autograph note signed
, with the advice "Live as though your life depended on it." Paul Auster
declines to advise, although in an autograph letter signed
he does say that "Once I reach moral perfection in my own life, then maybe I'll have something to say to others." Nicholson Baker's autograph note signed
apologizes for not pulling himself together and responding (his letter is dated 2-5 years after the others). Rick Bass's typed letter signed
advises (with supportive reasoning) reading, walking in the woods, wearing one's seatbelt, being prepared for others' greed exceeding one's passion, and taking big jumps. James Lee Burke's 1990 typed letter signed
, with holograph corrections and postscript, waxes political, in small part: "In my view we have made some very bad national choices in the last twenty-five years and have allowed hucksters, actors, and militarists to convince us that greed and power politics are not only acceptable ethically but are also genuine values that are part of our tradition." His advice is phrased as more of a hope, that the next generation does a better job. Frederick Busch, in a humble typed letter signed
, opines that "writers don't give advice, they enflesh mistakes," but he does come around to offering several sentences in the vein of "...the most and best of what I know about art and the life it salutes: Otherness is what most of this seems to be about--the celebration of what is not the self, the adoration of those who are not the self, the caretaking of those outside our bodies, psyches, histories..." Evan Connell's typed note signed
states, "Do not trust the leaders. They may or may not be telling the truth. And regardless of their integrity, or lack thereof, many of them are quite stupid." Roald Dahl's offer, in a typed note signed
, is: "Be kind to all men and women and children and if you are a male endeavour to lose your inherent aggression as soon as you possibly can." Herbert Gold, in a typed letter signed
, contributes seven sentences, each saying some version of "Read." Witold Gordon, in an autograph note signed
, notes that any advice he had for his own generation "went (sensibly?) unheeded" but suggests that the next generation "not be fruitful and not multiply to any great extent." Thom Gunn, in an autograph note signed
, declines to contribute as he can't think of anything that would be appropriately universal and confesses he would tend to the subversive. Barry Lopez first sends a typed postcard signed
agreeing to contribute and then follows through with two typed pages
(unsigned) that eloquently delve into three rules for humans in general and another three for writers in particular, in brief: (for all) to pay attention, to take nothing for granted, to be discerning; and (for writers) to read, to stand for something, and to get out of town. Jill McCorkle's autograph postcard signed
agrees to participate, but if she did, her contribution is not included here. Walker Percy's autograph letter signed
urges self-knowledge: "Unless you are a genius or a saint, you do not know who you are or why you find yourself in this life. If this is the case, you'd better find out. This means undertaking a search. The main sin of someone in this situation is not undertaking the search." Hubert Selby explicitly internalizes the search, in a typed letter signed
: "We all have an absolutely perfect guidance system within us, but we haven't learned how to listen to it...We become what we teach...And ultimately there is only one way of teaching anything and that is how we LIVE!" Selby also cautions that one should neither seek nor accept advice, that instead one should find someone with the same problem, ask them what they did and what the results were of their action. And Tom Wolfe, in an autograph note signed
, concludes with, "As soon as you know your answer is no, say no; don't wait for a more appropriate moment." All items are near fine or better. Most of the original mailing envelopes are included. Included is a copy of the book as published, lacking all of the above authors and their wisdom. A virtual alternate-book, with responses as interesting and/or thought-provoking as the published ones, if not more so.
2. ALVAREZ, Julia. Homecoming. NY: Grove (1984). The hardcover issue of her first book, a collection of poetry, published seven years before her award-winning first novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. Inscribed by the author in January of 1985, the year following publication. Fine in a near fine dust jacket with just slight wear to the spine extremities, and a touch of unnecessary black ink added to the crown. The hardcover issue of this book is very scarce, particularly in fine condition and signed.
3. AMIS, Martin. The Second Plane. NY: Knopf, 2008. The uncorrected proof copy of the first American edition of Amis' collection of essays and two stories focused on the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and their aftermath. Fine in wrappers. Oddly uncommon in an advance issue.
4. (Anthology). The Best Short Stories 1939. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1939. With contributions by John Cheever, Eudora Welty -- preceding both their first books -- Robert Penn Warren, Richard Wright, Robert M. Coates, William Saroyan, Meridel LeSueur, and others. Edited by Edward J. O'Brien. Mild fading to spine cloth, offsetting at hinges from binder's glue; still a near fine copy in a very good dust jacket with rubbing to the folds and modest edge wear. One of the more uncommon books in the series, especially in jacket, and including an especially distinguished roster of authors.
5. (Anthology). In a Time of Revolution. Poems from Our Third World. NY: Random House (1969). A review copy of this collection of poetry, edited by Walter Lowenfels, with contributions heavily weighted toward African American writers and those associated with the 1960s counterculture. This copy is inscribed by Clarence Major, one of the contributors. Fine in a very near fine dust jacket with review slip laid in.
6. (Anthology). Natural Process. NY: Hill & Wang (1970). "An anthology of New Black Poetry." This is the simultaneous issue in wrappers and is inscribed by Clarence Major (in pencil): "peace & struggle! always!" Other contributors include Sonia Sanchez, Sam Cornish, Audre Lorde, Nikki Giovanni, Al Young, and others. Covers rubbed; near fine.
7. (Anthology). Blackamerican Literature. Beverly Hills: Glencoe Press (1971). A textbook anthology collecting African-American writings from 1760 to the 1970s. Inscribed by Clarence Major, one of the contributors, in the year of publication. Contemporary contributors include Eldridge Cleaver, Nikki Giovanni, LeRoi Jones, Calvin Hernton, and Malcolm X. Near fine in wrappers.
8. (Anthology). Southern Excursions. (n.p.): Fellowship of Southern Writers, 1997. A limited edition of this collection of short stories, the first publication by the Fellowship of Southern Writers and intended as a fundraiser for that organization. One of 150 numbered copies (of 200 total) signed by all contributors: Lee Smith, Elizabeth Spencer, Fred Chappell, Walter Sullivan, Madison Jones, George Garrett, Mary Lee Settle, and George Core, the editor. An illustrious group of writers, winners collectively of virtually every literary award given out in the U.S. Fine in a very slightly dusty but still fine slipcase.
9. AUSTER, Paul. Fragments from Cold. (Brewster): Parenthèse (1977). One of 750 copies of this early collection of poems, this copy inscribed by the author: "For ___ & ___ - Love, Paul." Very shallow upper corner crease; still fine in stapled wrappers and dust jacket. Illustrated by Norman Bluhm.
10. AUSTER, Paul. Moon Palace. (NY): Viking (1989). Inscribed by the author to fellow writer Nicholas Delbanco, "among the cigar fumes, with best good thoughts." Very slight splaying to boards, else fine in a fine dust jacket. A nice association copy between two acclaimed writers and literary peers.
11. AUSTER, Paul. The New York Trilogy. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press (1994). First thus, the combined edition of City of Glass, Ghosts and The Locked Room. City of Glass was Auster's first novel published under his own name and was a surprise winner of the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for Best Novel of the year. It is unlike most novels nominated for that award, more meta-fiction than whodunit, and received acclaim from a wide variety of sources, as Auster's fiction has continued to do over the years. Similarly, the movies based on his books -- some of which he has written and/or directed -- have been well-received, and won or been nominated for a wide range of awards, both domestically and internationally. One of 200 numbered copies signed by the author. Fine in a fine dust jacket.
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