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Monday, April 29, 2013

The George W. Bush Library

It is ironic that the least literary of our Presidents has built the largest of all Presidential Libraries. It is on the campus of SMU in Dallas, Texas. The grounds cover 23 acres and include hundreds of trees and shrubs. Molly Ivins would be pleased! Entrance to museum and library is shown above, with an armed guard in place. A few facts highlighted in the news this past week.

The new W library will house 80 terabytes of digital data - thus, explaining why the facility had to be so large. I doubt that W could access any of this digital archive without help. It is possible that the number of real, old fashioned books eventually may exceed 100.

It is the first LEED certified Presidential Library - seems strange from a leader with such an environmentally hostile administration (some of the landscaping is shown below). It is rumored that when serious trimming efforts are needed on the grounds that Bush will drive his huge pickup, with chain saw, up to SMU. Some pundits are now speculating that W was really a closet greenie.

Just less than a year ago I noted: In an ironic twist of fate, Ray Bradbury was presented the National Medal of Arts (2004) by one of our most non-literary presidents - ceremony shown below. Kurt Vonnegut would say: "So it goes."

Friday, April 26, 2013

More On Gatsby!

Oh my - There is new edition of The Great Gatsby out that is a tie-in with the new movie. A 3-D, full-color movie of the 1920s classic - sounds very vile to me. The garish cover of the new trade paperback edition is shown above. It is causing a bit of a stir and got its own article in the NY Times. A quote from the article:

“It’s just God-awful,” Kevin Cassem, a bookseller at McNally Jackson, said on Tuesday. “ ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a pillar of American literature, and people don’t want it messed with. We’re selling the classic cover and have no intention of selling the new one.”
Movie tie-in editions are issued regularly in the book business, but rarely has the contrast between two covers of the same title been so pronounced.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"A Book By Its Covers"

An interesting feature appeared in the NY Times during the past week and in their Sunday's "Style" Magazine. The article is by Jeff Oloizia and is focused on various dust jackets/book covers that have appeared on "The Great Gatsby." The examples are from the collection of the late Matthew J. Bruccoli. The article can be accessed at: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/09/a-book-by-its-covers/ 

Below are six of the examples from the article - note particularly the final paperback cover from Bantam!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Robert Ludlum's First Two Books


I have continued to get far behind in mentioning books that I’ve read recently. “Recent” now means back to around last November.

Back then, I decided to read Robert Ludlum’s first two books: The Scarlatti Inheritance and The Osterman Weekend. The books were published by World Publishing in 1971 and 1972. I had read his first book long ago and, after beginning the second, realized that I had also read it at some time. I didn’t find either book to be good reading this time around. The plots of both are completely beyond any level of credibility. Numerous reviews can be easily googled on line and I will not go into any detail here. I couldn’t really recommend either title. Obviously, Ludlum’s thrillers either improved substantially, or reader’s were just taken with his leading characters, since his titles have sold hundreds of millions of copies over the years. New titles carrying his name are still appearing, even though he died in 2001.

However, both of these books present a real challenge for collectors. They were bound in cheap leatherette boards which were prone to chipping and cracking with age. The jackets for both were printed on clear acetate which did not age well, with copies often having yellowed and chipped jackets. Further, the BOMC versions were identical to the first editions, except for small, square blind  stamps to the lower corner of the back board, near the gutter. The BOMC jackets were not priced. BOMC copies are sometimes mistaken for 1st printings, so caution is needed. Copies of the both books, when found in collectible condition, may be priced at several hundred dollars, more if signed.

Ludlum was an actor and became well-known for his deep vocals in numerous TV commercials over the years. His death, at 73, seems more of a mystery than those of some of his novels. Thirteen days after signing a new will, leaving his entire estate to his second wife of four years, he was engulfed in flames while lounging pool-side at his estate in Florida. There was little investigation of the unexplained fire, and he died shortly after being released from the hospital, following treatment for severe burns. Some relatives contend that he was murdered and fights over his estate continue to this day.