Author's First Books, A-B
2. ACKERLEY, J.R. The Prisoners of War. London: Chatto & Windus, 1925. First edition of this play, his first book publication. Light offsetting to endpapers; else near fine in lightly spine-faded orange self-wraps. A near fine copy of the scarce debut by the author of My Dog Tulip.
3. ACKROYD, Peter. Notes for a New Culture. NY: Barnes & Noble Books (1976). First American edition of the first book of nonfiction (second book overall, following a collection of poetry) by the award-winning author of First Light and Hawksmoor. A critical study, by a writer who has gone on to be noted for his novels. Fine in a slightly rubbed, near fine dust jacket. Uncommon.
4. AGEE, James. Permit Me Voyage. NY: Yale University Press, 1934. A volume in the Yale Series of Younger Poets, with a foreword by Archibald MacLeish. Bookplate of David Riesman, who later became a noted sociologist, on the front pastedown; otherwise a near fine copy in a very good dust jacket with three modest-sized chips, one at the spine crown.
5. ALLENDE, Isabel. The House of Spirits. NY: Knopf, 1985. The first American edition of the first book by this expatriate Chilean author, niece of Salvador Allende, the President killed in the 1973 military coup. A novel in the South American magical realist tradition, this was made into a movie several years after its publication. Very slight spine slant but still fine in fine dust jacket.
6. AMADO, Jorge. The Violent Land. NY: Knopf, 1945. First American edition of this novel, his first major work to appear in English (a short, early novel, Slums, appeared in 1938). Very near fine in a bright dust jacket with some darkening on verso, and uncommon thus.
7. AMIS, Martin. The Rachel Papers. NY: Knopf, 1974. First American edition of the first book by a writer who reinvigorated the British comic novel. Fine in a fine dust jacket.
8. ANDERSON, Kent. Sympathy for the Devil. Garden City: Doubleday, 1987. Well-received first novel of the Special Forces in Vietnam, with whom the author served. A powerful and well-written novel that confronts the violence of the war head-on and explores an individual's capacity for tolerating, and committing, brutality that in any other context would be unthinkable and inhuman. One of the best novels of the war in its lucid and unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of the war on even so elite a group of hardened combat veterans as this and, as such, a powerful antiwar statement without the usual postures or attitudes normally associated with an antiwar message. This copy is signed by the author on the title page, with an additional, signed, handwritten comment on the front flyleaf: "Kirkus [Review] called Sympathy 'Morally Repugnant.' Exactly Right." Fine in fine dust jacket.
9. ANDERSON, Laurie. The Package. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill (1971). The first book, a narrative constructed of line drawings, by the performance artist who in her eight hour epic work United States I-IV brought the great American novel to a multimedia stage. Fine in a fine dust jacket.
10. (ARNOW), Harriette Simpson. Mountain Path. NY: Covici Friede (1936). The extremely elusive first book by this Kentucky writer, author of The Dollmaker, among others. Offsetting to endpapers and some foxing to pages and page edges. Still a near fine copy in a fine dust jacket, and one of the scarcest first books by a twentieth century American woman writer. Signed by the author. We have not seen another copy of this offered for years, let alone such an attractive copy as this; a rare high spot of any collection of writing by American women.
11. ATWOOD, Margaret. Double Persephone. Toronto: Hawkshead Press (1961). The extremely uncommon first book by the award-winning author of The Edible Woman and The Handmaid's Tale, among others. Precedes her collection The Circle Game, which won the Governor General's Award, by 5 years; and precedes her first novel by eight years. Atwood designed, illustrated, printed and bound this volume herself, and distributed it. The total edition has been reported to have been around 200 copies but few of them seem to have survived, as it shows up only occasionally in the rare book market. This is a fine copy in wrappers inscribed by the author in 1974, shortly after the critical success of her novel Surfacing had established her as a major literary voice among contemporary women writers with a feminist perspective. An important debut and a very scarce book, especially in fine condition, and exceptionally so signed.
12. ATWOOD, Margaret. The Edible Woman. Toronto: McClelland (1969). The true first edition (Canadian) of her first novel. A near fine copy in a near fine dust jacket with a long thin chip along the lower edge of the front panel and other minor edgewear. Signed by the author.
13. BAKER, Nicholson. The Mezzanine. NY: Weidenfeld & Nicholson (1988). His highly praised first book, which examines to great effect the minutiae of a few moments in the life of an ordinary office worker. Fine in fine dust jacket and signed by the author.
14. BALLARD, J.G. The Drowned World. London: Gollancz, 1962. First edition of his rare first book. Inevitable minor foxing to page edges, else near fine in a very good dust jacket with shallow chipping to the spine ends. Signed by the author.
15. BAMBARA, Toni Cade. Gorilla, My Love. NY: Random House (1972). A collection of short stories by this noted African-American writer, recently deceased. Fine in a near fine dust jacket with light rubbing at the spine extremities. Surprisingly uncommon, although when one considers how few black women writers were being published by mainstream presses at this time, one begins to understand the scarcity of this book; perhaps the remarkable thing is not so much how scarce it is but that it got published at all.
16. BANKS, Iain. The Wasp Factory. London: Macmillan (1984). The author's first book, a literate and comic horror novel. Light shelfwear to spine base; else fine in fine dust jacket.
17. BARRETT, Andrea. Lucid Stars. (NY): (Dell) (1988). Advance reading copy of the first book by the recent National Book Award winner. Published as a Delta paperback original. Trace rubbing at folds, else fine in wrappers.
18. BARTH, John. The Floating Opera. NY: Appleton, Century, Crofts (1956). The author's first book. Barth's elaborate and funny postmodern novels have been called brilliant by critics and writers alike, and they established the standard for a generation of postwar writers impatient with the limitations of the realistic novel. Owner name front flyleaf. Very near fine in near fine dust jacket. A nice copy of this scarce and important debut.
19. BARTHELME, Donald. Snow White. NY: Atheneum (1967). The second book, first novel, by an influential writer whose stories, novels and other prose pieces helped expand the possibilities of literary art in the Sixties, at a time when the novel was being proclaimed "dead." Barthelme's writings not only invigorated postwar American literature, they influenced a younger generation of writers searching for a way to make fiction a relevant art form in an era characterized by instantaneous electronic information transfer--and the appearance of mass psychosis that it seemed to convey. Barthelme's impact on American fiction lingers: at a certain crucial moment, he helped alter the trajectory of contemporary writing and in so doing opened up new avenues for exploration, which had been hidden or inaccessible before. Fine in a near fine, price-clipped dust jacket.
20. BASS, Rick. The Watch. NY: Norton (1989). The first book of fiction, a highly praised collection of short stories, by a Montana writer who has become well known for his writings in the field of natural history. Mild sticker abrasion mark front pastedown; else fine in a fine dust jacket. Signed by the author in 1992.
21. BATCHELOR, John Calvin. The Further Adventures of Halley's Comet. (n.p.): Congdon and Lattes (1980). Uncorrected proof copy of the author's first book, this being the first state, in blue wrappers and with pages reproduced from typescript, rather than typeset. An extravagant and highly praised novel, which was issued in both softcover and hardcover simultaneously. The hardcover edition is quite scarce; the proof very much more so. Spine-darkened and mildly creased; else very good in wrappers.
22. BAXTER, Charles. The South Dakota Guidebook. (NY): New Rivers Press, 1974. The second book, a collection of poetry, by the author of First Light, and others. This is the simultaneous issue in wrappers. The total edition was 600 copies, of which 400 were issued in wrappers and 200 in cloth. Not a first book, although it is elusive and little-known and often thought to be--sometimes information about an author's first book can be nearly as elusive as the book itself. Baxter's first book was a poetry collection published four years earlier. Well-known these days as a writer of fiction, his first novel wasn't published until 1987 [see below], seventeen years after his first book. Near fine. A scarce title in either the hardcover or softcover issue.
23. BAXTER, Charles. First Light. NY: Viking (1987). Baxter's third book of prose, fifth book overall, and first novel. Fine in near fine dust jacket with slight creasing to top edge of front panel.
24. BEAGLE, Peter S. A Fine and Private Place. NY: Viking, 1960. The author's first book, one of David Pringle's 100 Best Modern Fantasy Novels. Fine in near fine dust jacket. A very nice copy, warmly and humorously inscribed by the author: "For ____ & _____ -/ if I had had any/ kind of social life/ at 19...../ Peter S. Beagle," with a face drawn inside the "P" of "Peter." This book was published when Beagle was 20 years old; his inscription refers to his having been writing it when he was 19, rather than enjoying more typical teenage pursuits.
25. -. Same title, the first British edition (London: Muller, 1960). Very good in a very good dust jacket.
26. BEATTIE, Ann. Distortions. NY: Doubleday, 1976. Her first book of stories. With this book and her simultaneously issued first novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, Beattie instantly gained recognition as a voice of her generation--survivors of the social and political turmoil of the 1960s who, by the time they turned 30, in the Seventies, were weary and jaded. One tiny spot to top page edges, else fine in a near fine dust jacket with a touch of spine-fading and trace rubbing at the extremities. A very nice copy of a not-particularly-well-made book--Doubleday in the mid-Seventies having earned a reputation for cutting corners wherever possible in manufacturing, and turning out books that were as flimsy as the notorious "book club editions," which were, not coincidentally, issued by book clubs that Doubleday itself owned.
27. -. Another copy, fine in slightly spine-faded jacket.
28. -. Another copy. Near fine in very good dust jacket.
29. BEATTIE, Ann. Chilly Scenes of Winter. Garden City: Doubleday, 1976. Her first novel, which was made into a film. Trace wear to cloth at spine crown; still fine in a jacket with two edge tears on the front panel; else near fine. Again, a much-nicer-than-usual copy of a not-very-well-made book.
30. -. Another copy. Near fine in very good dust jacket.
31. BELL, Madison Smartt. The Washington Square Ensemble. NY: Viking (1983). The first book by this Tennessee native, a graduate of the renowned Hollins College writing program. This novel was characterized by one prominent New York editor as the most accomplished first novel he had read since Thomas Pynchon's V. Light creases to the top edges of a few pages, otherwise fine in fine dust jacket and signed by the author.
32. BELLOW, Saul. Dangling Man. London: Lehmann, 1946. The first British edition of the Nobel Prize winner's first book, first published in 1944. Although a postwar book, this is printed and bound in the manner of British wartime books--using thin paper and thin boards, a quite fragile construction overall. This is a near fine copy in a very slightly spine-dulled but still near fine dust jacket. A very attractive copy of a scarce, early edition.
33. BENEDICT, Pinckney. Town Smokes. Princeton: Ontario Review Press (1987). His highly praised first book, a collection of short stories only issued in wrappers. Fine, and signed by the author.
34. BERENDT, John. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. NY: Random House (1994). Advance reading copy of this highly praised book of literary nonfiction, a portrait of Savannah, Georgia, and as unlikely a bestseller as there has been in recent years: at last count, the book had gone through over 80 printings. Fine in wrappers.
35. BERGER, John. A Painter of Our Time. London: Secker & Warburg, 1958. The first book by the author of Ways of Seeing and To the Wedding, among many others. Berger began his writing career as an art critic and, according to the jacket copy, this novel was written with the challenge of bringing a convincing portrait of a painter to fiction. Very near fine in a near fine dust jacket rubbed at the corners, extremities and folds.
36. BERRIGAN, Daniel. Time Without Number. NY: Macmillan, 1957. First book by this poet-priest who later became well-known as an anti-war activist in the 1960s. This title was the Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets for 1957. Fine in near fine dust jacket, with the Academy award announcement laid in.
37. BERRY, Wendell. Nathan Coulter. Boston: Houghton Mifllin, 1960. First book, a novel, by this poet/novelist/essayist and activist, who has become one of the defining voices of our era as a critic of the excesses of our technology-infused lifestyle and the most well-known and outspoken contemporary advocate of agrarian values. Owner gift inscription front flyleaf; else fine in a near fine dust jacket, with one short tear and light soiling.
38. (BERRY, Wendell). Two Poems in Kentucky Writing. Morehead: Morehead State College (1954). A small literary magazine printing prose and poetry by a number of Kentucky writers, most quite young at that time. Edited by James McConkey, and with contributions by Berry (he is identified as being a sophomore at the University of Kentucky), Hollis Summers, Jesse Stuart and others whose names have not become familiar as literary figures. The typesetting and construction of this volume suggest a very limited print run and it is the earliest appearance in print by Berry that we have seen, predating his first novel by six years. Near fine in wrappers.
39. BLAISE, Clark. A North American Education. Garden City: Doubleday, 1973. First book, a collection of short fiction, by an American writer who has lived in Canada for the past 30 years and is married to award-winning author Bharati Mukherjee. One light corner bump; else fine in a very good dust jacket. Inscribed by the author.
40. BLOOM, Amy. Come to Me. (NY): HarperCollins (1993). Her first book, a collection of stories, two of which were included in The Best American Short Stories anthologies for 1991 and 1992. Jacket blurbs by Dorothy Allison, Annie Dillard, Ursula LeGuin and Alice Adams. Fine in fine dust jacket and signed by the author.
41. BOSWELL, Robert. Dancing in the Movies. Iowa City: U. of Iowa Press (1986). His very scarce first book, a collection of stories which won the Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction. Fine in a fine dust jacket. Generally, university press books have smaller print runs than comparable titles issued by mainstream trade publishers.
42. BOSWELL, Robert. Crooked Hearts. NY: Knopf, 1987. Uncorrected proof copy of the author's first novel, second book. Fine in wrappers.
43. -. Same title, the advance reading copy. Slight soiling to foredge and creasing to spine. Near fine in wrappers.
44. -. Same title, the first trade edition. An unusual copy, which includes two dust jackets, one a trial design which was later abandoned by the publisher. Very few copies of this were created, and we have not seen or heard of another copy appearing on the market. Fine in fine jackets.
45. BOWDEN, Charles. Killing the Hidden Waters. Austin: U. of Texas Press (1977). Elusive first book, nonfiction, by this heir apparent to Edward Abbey's role as vociferous critic of the exploitation and despoliation of the natural resources of that desert Southwest. This volume addresses the issues surrounding the scarce water resources of the region, viewed through a historical perspective that highlights the early Native American tribes' ability to manage the resources in a sustainable manner. A fine copy in a very good, well-rubbed dust jacket with one small chip on the front panel.
46. BOWLES, Paul. The Sheltering Sky. (NY): New Directions (1949). The first American edition of Bowles's landmark first novel, an influential tale of Westerners abroad in North Africa. One critic summarized it thus: "The Sheltering Sky shows his remarkable feeling for the power of the African town and desert to generate existential fear and panic in characters exhausted and degenerated by Western urban excess. He is a master of cruelty and isolation, and the ironies of the search for meaning in an inadequately understood environment." Fine in a dust jacket with a very small chip at the crown, else fine.
47. -. Another copy. Owner name and offsetting to front flyleaf; else very good in a fair dust jacket that is chipped at and near the spine crown and split along both flap folds.
48. BRADLEY, David. South Street. NY: Grossman Viking, 1975. The author's first book, a novel whose main "character" is the street itself, the main artery of the black section of Philadelphia. Boards sunned; near fine in a near fine dust jacket with small abrasion and mild yellowing to rare panel.
49. BRAUTIGAN, Richard. A Confederate General from Big Sur. NY: Grove (1964). Advance review copy of Brautigan's first novel and first hardcover book, after several small press poetry publications. With a letter from the publisher laid in to Malcolm Cowley. Near fine in very good, spine-tanned jacket stained at the spine crown and the top corner of the front panel, with one edge tear at the upper front panel. Very scarce as an advance copy, especially with an association with one of the foremost American literary critics of the century.
50. -. Same title, the first British edition (London: Cape, 1970). Fine in a near fine dust jacket.
51. BRODKEY, Harold. First Love and Other Sorrows. NY: Dial (1957). Brodkey's first book, a collection of stories that had the literary world virtually on tenterhooks for the next three decades, eagerly awaiting his first novel, which wasn't published until 1991. This copy has some offsetting to the front and rear endpapers; thus near fine in a near fine dust jacket with only very slight rubbing to the edges and folds. Inscribed by the author, with an added caricature.
52. -. Same title, review copy. Fine in fine dust jacket and extremely scarce thus. The nicest copy we have seen.
53. -. Same title, first English edition (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1958). Fine in near fine dust jacket. Uncommon.
54. BROWN, Larry. Facing the Music. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1988. His first book, a collection of stories. Fine in fine dust jacket and signed by the author.
55. BROWN, Rosellen. Some Deaths in the Delta. (n.p.): U. of Massachusetts Press (1970). Her first book, a collection of poems. This is the hardcover issue. Warmly inscribed by the author to another writer in 1976: "For _____ and ______./ My south, which was/ probably very different/ from your south: some/ easy poems even a/ narrow-minded old story-/ writer, set in his ways,/ will understand./ Rosellen/ May 1976." Fine in a spine-faded, very good dust jacket with an edge tear near the upper front spine fold. A fairly uncommon book and a nice literary association.
56. -. Another copy, unsigned. Fine in a near fine dust jacket.
57. BROWN, Rosellen. Street Games. Garden City: Doubleday, 1974. Her first book of fiction, a collection of stories. Warmly inscribed by the author to a well-known writer and his wife: "For ______ and _____,/ For such whole-hearted/ listening and such generous/ approval -- THANKS seems/ a tiny word./ Rosellen/ May 1976." Edge fading to cloth; near fine in very good dust jacket with minor wear at and near the spine extremities. A nice inscription and an excellent association.
58. BRUCE, Lenny. How to Talk Dirty and Influence People. (Chicago): Playboy Press (1965). Autobiography of the comedian who redefined standup comedy in the Sixties, giving it a social relevance it had previously shed. One corner bump; else fine in a near fine dust jacket. A particularly nice copy of a moderately scarce book.
59. BUKOWSKI, Charles. 20 Tanks from Kasseldown. (n.p.: n.p., n.d.). Bukowski's first separate publication, a broadside originally published as part of Black Sun Press Portfolio III, in 1946, in an edition of 1000 copies. Precedes his next separately published work by 14 years. 12" x 16", both sides. One spot upper corner, not affecting text. Near fine. A nice copy of an uncommon, early piece by Bukowski, the consummate street poet.
60. BUSCH, Frederick. I Wanted a Year Without Fall. London: Calder & Boyars (1971). The author's first book--a novel which has never been published in the U.S. despite his now having had a dozen or so books published here. Minuscule foxing to top edge; else fine in fine, price-clipped dust jacket. Uncommon.
61. BUTLER, Robert Olen. Alleys of Eden. NY: Horizon (1981). First edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winner's first book, a highly praised novel of the ending and aftermath of the Vietnam war--themes that have continued to run through his writing since, including his award-winning story collection. Although Butler's early books were universally praised by reviewers, they enjoyed little commercial success, in part because the first three were published by a small publisher on the brink of bankruptcy. Fine in a fine dust jacket. A beautiful copy of a first book that has become quite scarce, especially in such condition--the unlaminated blue dust jacket being easily susceptible to rubbing and wear.
62. -. Another copy. Fine in fine dust jacket with trace rubbing to the front flap fold. Again, an very nice copy of a book that is scarce in such condition.