Monday, July 28, 2014

OT12: Vonnegut

One of my favourite authors of all time is Kurt Vonnegut and every year I reread at least two of his books – Slaughterhouse-Five in the spring and whatever catches my fancy in the summer. Why? Cause there is so much depth in his work that I get something new out of every reading. This summer I’m devoting some time to these two books:

Ten years apart.

Much like my obsession with Oscar Wilde, I’ve picked up almost every Vonnegut first printings I’ve found at The Monkey’s Paw. I’ve had these two for a while now, having picked them up a month apart last summer, but never had the time to read any non-Bibliomat books due to the reading experiment that engulfed my 2013.

The first book is the 1979 printing of Jailbird. I had read this one while in university, long before the name Kilgore Trout became familiar and remember liking it a lot back then. 

Something to be said about 70's design.


Should be interesting rereading it again after having ten years of life experience and a lot more understanding of political history.

The second book is Hocus Pocus, printed in 1990. Funny enough, I have never read this despite it being one of his few books that was published after I was born. Picked up for less than the Canadian cover price, it was steal.

This was an expensive book...

Agree to disagree.

One of my few buying regrets was not snapping up the first edition of Breakfast of Champions I saw on the shelf the very first time I stepped foot into the store. Thinking it would be there the next time I came back, I passed up on it only to find it gone when I returned the next day. So it goes.

Monday, July 21, 2014

S18: Jed – A story of Battle and Prison, of Peril and Escape

This week’s Biblio-Mat submission is a rare fiction novel, and an old one at that!

Title: Jed, A Story of Battle and Prison, of Peril and Escape
Submitted by: Mitch A.

Published in 1889, this story presumably takes place during the American Civil War as it has a subtitle of “A Boy’s Adventures in the Army of ’61-‘65”. Written by Warren Lee Goss, it’s a 404-pager that looks like it’s punctuated by black and white illustrations. 

Can’t tell if it was meant to be an adventure book for boys or if it was targeted towards adults but the sheer length of it and the author’s other books makes me think the latter.

Monday, July 14, 2014

OT11: The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter

In honour of Germany winning the 2014 Fifa World Cup (despite me backing France), I’ve decided to break out one of the most amazing books I’ve ever picked up from The Monkey’s Paw – a rare translation of a German story.

Teutonic design.

A case to protect the case

Don't foresee a Disney adaptation coming anytime soon.

The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter is an 1891 novella by German novelist Richard Voss. In 1892, it was translated by Adolphe De Castro who then contacted one of the most interesting literary giants to edit and adapt it – Ambrose Bierce. Ambrose Bierce ranks quite higher on the list of writers I revere. In addition to being a crazy literary critic, having a distinctively dark writing style, and authoring of the greatest short stories of all time, the guy up and disappeared without a trace one. No one knows what happened to him, only that he joined Pancho Villa’s army and apparently felt that that wasn’t interesting enough so he left for an unknown destination after. He was 71.

Five artists on one page.

This 1967 printing of The Monk and the Hangman’s Daughter is a private printing created with an extremely high attention to detail for The Limited Editions Club. Coming with a slipcover that fits into a slipcase, on the shelf it looks like a simple cardbound book. However, the actual book inside the casings is bound in burlap with embossed lettering and symbols.

This photo really doesn't do it justice.

People went into battle with less armour than this in those days.

While the book seems like an archival edition that you would expect to contain no-nonsense black and white text in minimalist fashion, as soon as you open it, you are blasted with an explosion of vivid colours. Containing seven watercolour illustrations by Michel Ciry, it is a gorgeous read through and through. 

Just like a storybook.


Begins well enough.

Minor setback, right?

Just like a German storybook, anyway. Spoiler alert.

It’s not often that one finds a book that engages the senses so well and I’m very fortunate to have snapped this up before someone else did. Apparently it belonged to a notable film/television personality but I can’t for the life of me remember who it was since I was too busy running my hands across the cover when Stephen was telling me about it. Burlap really does make an incredible binding.

Monday, July 7, 2014

S17: The Proterozoic in Canada

History books from the Biblio-Mat are often dry and textbook in nature. This week’s submission is no exception.

Book: The Proterozoic in Canada
Submitted by: Trevor S.

Published in 1957 by The Royal Society of Canada, it looks like a regal tome with a nice green binding bearing a seal. Inside, it looks like there’s a good amount of images to offset the text, which is probably a good thing as a book published in the 50’s delving into the details of earth circa two billion years ago needs all the help it can get (there were rocks… some water… more rocks…). 

At least there are maps, and who doesn’t like maps?