Raymond Carver, "A" Items, section 1

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"A" Items - Books by Raymond Carver, section 1

Near Klamath - A3

Raymond Carver's first book, a collection of poetry preceded only by a group of offprints done at Concordia College in Minnesota in the mid-Sixties. William Stull's Carver checklist in American Book Collector identifies two earlier offprints, thus Near Klamath is identified as "A3"; however, since Stull's list was done, at least one more has turned up, and thus the numbering can be expected to be revised when the final bibliography is done. The number of copies of Near Klamath that were printed is not known. Carver recalls in a much later letter (1988, see below) that there were 200 to 250 or so; earlier reports, admittedly speculation, had pegged the likely number as being closer to 100. A reasonable guess would be somewhere between those two figures, with a strong likelihood of its being closer to the lower number; the English Club of Sacramento State College would likely not have distributed the book widely, and if there had been 250 copies done originally, it's not unreasonable to suppose that by now, with Carver's name becoming well known and the value of the book climbing considerably, a substantial number would have turned up. On the contrary, however, the book is quite scarce, and becoming more so. Near Klamath was published in red stapled wrappers stamped in black. A variant has turned up that is completely black on the covers--red paper completely overprinted in black ink. These apparently represent flawed or trial copies. The poems in Near Klamath are spare, direct, and often very personal, as Carver's writing--both his poetry and his prose--continued to be throughout his career.

1. First edition. (Sacramento): (English Club of Sacramento State College) (1968). A fine copy of this scarce and fragile book, signed by the author and laid into a custom quarter leather clamshell case. Together with a 1½-page ALS from Carver responding at length to an individual's inquiry about a copy of the book, replying that "the copy you described sounds like the genuine article." He goes on to mention the print run: "I believe 200 or 250 copies were printed, although I'm not exactly certain. But no more than 250, I'm sure." At one point he begins to describe a variant white cover, and then corrects himself ("- No, no, no - I'm thinking of Winter Insomnia.") [see below] An informative and generous letter, written in the last year of Carver's life, and commenting on his first published book: he recalls that "copies sold for 50¢ each and there were a large number left over. I wish I had them now!" With the original envelope, addressed in Carver's hand. A very nice copy of a scarce and important first book, extremely uncommon signed, together with an informative and revealing letter.

2. -. Another copy. This copy has a previous owner name inside the front cover and two bookstore rubber stamps, one inside the front cover and one on the title page. Slight overall soiling and wear, but still a very good copy of this collection--the somewhat humble beginning of a literary career that eventually helped reshape the modern American short story.

Winter Insomnia - A4

Carver's second book, also poetry, published in an edition of 1000 copies attractively designed and printed by George Hitchcock, with prints by Robert McChesney. This was, in effect, Carver's "first regularly published book"--Kayak was a small but established publisher, which produced a literary magazine as well as issuing books of poetry. It is printed in yellow wrappers, stamped in light green and black, and perfectbound. Stull's checklist notes that "at least two copies were issued in a variant binding of white wrappers" and Carver's letter (listed above) confirmed his recollection of such a variant.

3. First edition. (Santa Cruz): (Kayak Books Inc.) (1970). Two copies: one bound in yellow wrappers and signed by the author, the other bound in white wrappers and inscribed by author in the year of publication. The yellow copy is very fine; the white is slightly darkened with age, and thus very good, and is an exceedingly scarce variant, with a good contemporary inscription. Housed in an attractive custom quarter leather clamshell case. For both:

4. -. Another copy, in yellow wrappers. A fine copy, inscribed by the author "with regards and my thanks," in New York in 1981.

5. -. Another copy in yellow wrappers. Signed by the author. Fine.

6. -. Another copy, unsigned.

Put Yourself in My Shoes - A5

Carver's first book of fiction, a single short story published in the Capra Chapbooks series. Carver's book was the 21st in the series, and it was published in two states--an issue in wrappers and a hardcover limited edition, numbered and signed. There were 75 copies of the hardcover; Stull indicates that "the publisher reports that a total of 500 copies were issued," although it is not clear whether that number includes the 75 hardcovers. "Put Yourself in My Shoes" was later included in Carver's first story collection, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, which was published in 1976.

7. First edition, limited hardcover issue. Santa Barbara: Capra Press. 1974. One of 75 numbered copies signed by the author. The stitching of the first signature has loosened a bit, otherwise this is a very fine copy.

8. First edition, wrappered issue. A fine copy, inscribed by the author "with good wishes" in 1982.

At Night the Salmon Move - A6

Carver's third collection of poems, and his second book to be issued by Capra. There were, again, two issues--a signed limited hardcover issue of 100 copies and a wrappered issue with no limitation stated but which Stull again quotes the publisher as indicating that 1000 copies were issued.

9. First edition, limited issue. Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1976. Limited to 100 numbered copies, quarterbound in black cloth and blue illustrated boards, and signed by the author. A fine copy.

10. First edition, wrappered issue. This copy is inscribed by the author to his brother and sister-in-law in the year and month of publication--February, 1976. This copy is additionally signed on the title page by Carver, and he has made a holograph correction to the text, inserting a word in one of the poems. Stained at the foredges and on the first blank, otherwise fine. An excellent association copy and early inscription.

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? - A7

Carver's first collection of stories, a nominee for the National Book Award and the first book to bring him recognition beyond the small circle of literary insiders who were familiar with his writing from the literary magazines and the small press volumes. The publisher promoted this book as "the work of the increasingly influential Raymond Carver, an artificer of eerie simplicities that yield the hard truths of the human enterprise"--which might be accounted typical publisher's fluff were it not that it happened to be so true, and to be a distillation of the essence of Carver's writing. These stories provoked a trend of "minimalist" writing that, for a time, was the dominant mode in American short fiction. And while Carver's stories never strove for nor attained the kind of "pure" minimalism that others embodied-- and minimalism itself came to be largely discredited as a passing fad of minor literary significance--Carver reinvigorated the short story form as no other American writer had since Hemingway, with a spare and resolute voice that could not be dismissed, even in an age that had forgone conventional notions of plot and character as being outmoded and ill-equipped to convey the subtle nuances of fluctuating and sophisticated realities. A landmark, influential collection--one of the most important books of short stories of the postwar era.

11. First edition, uncorrected proof copy. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976. Inscribed by the author the month before publication: "For _____ - these unrevised/ and error-filled proofs -/ with thanks and best wishes/ Ray Carver/ February 1976." Carver has also signed the book on the title page of the first story, and has corrected the title of one of the books listed as a previous publication. A sentence on page 224 has been crossed out by hand, changing the last line of the penultimate story. A wonderful copy of the very scarce proof of this important collection. Fine in wrappers, in a custom quarter leather clamshell case.

12. -. Another proof copy, unsigned. Near fine in wrappers.

13. First edition, the trade issue. A couple of tiny spots to the foredges, otherwise fine in fine dust jacket and inscribed by the author to one of his publishers and additionally signed. Housed in a handsome custom quarter leather clamshell case.

14. -. Another copy. Lower front corner slightly bumped, otherwise fine in fine dust jacket and signed by the author. Very scarce thus, as both the binding and dust jacket are fragile and easily subject to wear.

15. -. Another copy, unsigned. Fine in near fine dust jacket.

16. -. Another copy. Near fine in dust jacket.

17. First paperback edition. New York: McGraw-Hill (1978). Trade paperback edition, with the same trim size and design as the hardcover. Fine in wrappers and signed by the author.

Furious Seasons and Other Stories - A8

Carver's second collection of stories, and his third publication for Capra Press. Like the previous two Capra books, this was published in two states--a hardcover, numbered and signed limited edition, and a softcover issue. There were 100 hardcovers and reportedly 1200 softcovers. In addition to the title piece, this collection also contains one of Carver's most memorable stories--"So Much Water, So Close to Home"--one of the stories that formed the basis for Robert Altman's acclaimed film, Short Cuts, based on Carver's writings.

18. First edition, advance review copy, the wrappered issue. Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1977. A fine copy in wrappers, with publisher's review slip laid in, giving the publication date as October 1, 1977. Signed by the author on the title page. In a custom quarter leather clamshell case.

19. -. Another copy. Inscribed by the author to his mother, "with love," and dated in 1979. A warm, intimate association. A near fine copy.

20. First edition, limited hardcover issue. One of 100 numbered copies signed by the author. A fine copy, without dust jacket, as issued.

Distress Sale - A9

Carver's first broadside, measuring 11" x 16" and printed on a heavy textured stock in black with a red title. Illustrated by James R. Silke. The edition was limited to 150 numbered copies, signed by both Carver and Silko, and there were reportedly 30 extras for "presentation" and 10 or so for the author, publisher, etc. "Distress Sale" is a heartrending account of a family's tag sale, imbued with Carver's intense perception of, and empathy for, others; pain and suffering.

21. First edition. One of 150 numbered copies signed by the author and the artist. Very fine.

22. -. Another copy. One corner slightly turned; a bit of smudging to the surface, but still near fine.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love - A10

Carver's second major story collection, and his first significant commercial success: this was his first book to be published by Alfred A. Knopf, the preeminent literary publisher in the U.S., and was also his first to go back to press: it received excellent reviews, including a front-page review in The New York Times Book Review, and went through four printings soon after publication. Carver relentlessly revised and refined his vision and his expression, and these stories reflect that: two of them were included in Furious Seasons and Other Stories, but here appear in substantially different form, including one having been re-titled. In a later interview Carver recalled that, at this point in his writing career he was continually paring away the excess in his already-spare stories, whittling them down closer to the essence. The later, retrospective collection Fires contains earlier versions of three of the stories in this collection, showing the process of revision, and Carver's literary development. An important milestone in Carver's career.

23. First edition, advance uncorrected proof copy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981. An important proof, which reproduces numerous holograph changes in Carver's hand, including deletions, additions (sometimes whole phrases and sentences) and character name changes, among others. A remarkable glimpse of the work-in-progress, even after the proofs had been typeset. Signed by the author on the title page.

24. First edition, advance review copy of the trade issue. Fine in fine dust jacket, with promotional photo of the author laid in. Signed by the author.

25. First edition, third printing. Fine in jacket and inscribed by the author to his brother "with love," in the year of publication. A fine association copy.

26. First English edition. London: Collins, 1982. Fine in fine dust jacket. Signed by the author.

27. First paperback edition. New York: Vintage Books (1982). Very slight crease on front cover, otherwise fine in wrappers. Signed by the author.

Two Poems - A11

Carver's first limited edition to be published after his initial brush with commercial success, this project preceded his long-lasting relationship with William Ewert, who later published a large number of limited editions of Carver's work. This book was created by an admirer of Carver's poetry, and was intended to be the second in a series of small limited editions, the first apparently having been a poem by William Stafford. We do not know if others were completed. In response to the request for material to produce this edition, Carver sent the publisher four poems that had not appeared in book form to date. Two of them were used, and changed slightly from the versions Carver sent. The edition was to be limited to 100 numbered copies; actually 117 were done. The project took longer than either Carver or the publisher had expected, but Carver was quite pleased with the results when it was finally done, nearly a year after it had been begun.

28. Publisher's archive for TWO POEMS. This is the complete archive for the edition, containing four typed letters signed by Carver and one autograph note signed, along with photocopies of the four poems he sent for consideration for inclusion. These bear minor differences from their final published form. Also included in the archive is the publisher's final letter to Carver, sending the books to him for his signatures (and his comments) and instructing him which to keep. Carver got the first 25 copies for his own use, plus an unspecified number of the 17 overrun copies. Most Carver manuscript material is institutionalized and few archives exist, even for so small a publication as this. Fine, with the original envelopes addressed in Carver's hand.

29. First edition, author's issue. (Salisbury): Scarab (1982). Limited to 100 copies signed by the author. This is one of the first 25 copies, which were reserved for the author's own use. This is number 10, and is signed on the title page, although not on the colophon. Fine in wrappers.

30. First edition, "trade" issue. One of the 75 numbered copies (of 100) that were offered for sale. These copies were signed by the author on the title page and again on the colophon in all copies we have seen. Fine in wrappers.

The Pheasant - A12

A small limited edition of a single story, issued as part of a series done by William Ferguson that also included works by John McPhee and Ann Beattie. There were 150 numbered copies in wrappers and twenty-six hardcover copies, which, according to the colophon, were not formally offered for sale. The story was later included in the collection Fires.

31. First edition, hardcover issue. Worcester: Metacom Press, 1982. Quarterbound in brown cloth and marbled paper boards. One of only 26 lettered copies signed by the author, the entire hardcover edition. A fine copy.

32. First edition, wrappered issue. One of 150 copies in marbled paper wrappers, signed by the author. A fine copy.

At Night the Salmon Move - A13

A small postcard issued as a New Year's greeting by Capra Press in anticipation of their publishing the collection Fires in early 1983. The card prints the title poem from Carver's earlier Capra poetry collection, although the poem has been revised for this publication. The publisher reported 300 copies done, of which 25 were numbered and signed by Carver.

33. First edition, limited issue. (Santa Barbara: Capra Press) 1983. The first separate edition of this poem, and revised from its original publication. This is one of 25 numbered copies signed by the author. Very scarce now.

FIRES. Essays, Poems, Stories. - A14

Fires was a Carver retrospective, published by his early small press publisher, Capra, on the heels of his breakthrough to widespread recognition, substantial critical acclaim and (modest) commercial success. It included previously uncollected essays and poems, as well as early versions of stories that appeared in modified form in his other collections. Fires is Carver's most complicated collection, bibliographically speaking. The first edition was published in hardcover and paperback simultaneously, with two issues of the hardcover having shown up--a signed limited edition and an unsigned "trade" edition. However, only the signed hardcover edition was issued a separate ISBN (International Standard Book Number, the standard identifier used by libraries, publishers and bookstores for a specific edition), which suggests that the "trade" edition may have, in fact, been nothing more than a print overrun of the limited edition, issued without the signed colophon leaf. In fact, the publisher has been reported as saying that there were fewer copies done of the unsigned trade edition than there were of the signed edition, which had 250 copies. The simultaneous softcover is identical in content, but its rear cover includes a photograph of Carver that the hardcover lacks, and that has not been reprinted elsewhere. The "first expanded" edition, published by Vintage the following year, includes the interview with Carver that appeared in The Paris Review. The British edition of this title did not include the Paris Review interview nor the "Afterword," which was the only original piece of writing Carver did for this volume. Instead, it printed two essays not included in the American editions--"My Father's Life," which was only published in this country in a limited edition, and "John Gardner: The Writer as Teacher," which appeared in this country as the introduction to a posthumously published book by Gardner on writing.

34. First edition, limited hardcover issue. Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1983. One of 250 numbered copies in red boards, signed by the author. All the copies we have seen of this issue have had an acetate dust jacket, presumably issued by the publisher. This is a fine copy.

35. First edition, hardcover "trade" issue. Identical to the above, except without the colophon, and copies we have seen did not have an acetate dust jacket issued by the publisher. This copy is fine, and has been signed by the author on the front free endpaper. Fewer than 250 copies were done, according to the publisher.

36. First edition, wrappered issue. Inscribed by the author in the year of publication. Near fine copy.

37. -. Another copy, unsigned. Fine in wrappers.

38. First expanded edition. NY: Vintage (1984). Softcover reprint, which adds the Paris Review interview with Carver. Fine in wrappers and signed by the author.

39. First English edition. London: Collins Harvill, 1985. Advance review copy with review slip laid in. Fine in fine dust jacket and signed by the author.

40. -. Another copy, not a review copy. Fine in price-clipped dust jacket with a new price sticker on the front flap.

41. Second English edition. (London): Picador (1986). Softcover reprint. Signed by the author.

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