Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2018 Issue

Nothing But The Book from Brian Cassidy Bookseller

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Catalogue thirteen.

Brian Cassidy Bookseller has released catalogue 13: the book & nothing but the book. I will not even attempt to describe what sort of material can be found in a Cassidy catalogue. That's over my head. Fortunately, this one is divided into sections, with headings, which I will repeat, They are: a dozen non-algorithmically-selected featured items; poetry concrete, avant garde, and otherwise; art & photo; beats, pulps, and the obligatory modern firsts; and film, music, and miscellaneous cool shit. That's "sh*t" for those uncomfortable with the use of that word. I hope the search engines don't penalize us. Here are a few of these sometimes odd and eccentric books.

 

We begin with one of those unusual items Cassidy seems to find. The title is Shiny Ride, the collaborative effort of artists Joe Brainard and Kenward Elmslie. Cassidy explains that it juxtaposes "drawings from a sex manual with pictures from the Apollo space program." There's something I never would have thought of doing. That is why they are the artists. Item 34, published in 1972. Priced at $150.

 

Ed Ruscha has created some of the most comprehensive photo essays you will see. He is the photographer who photographed every building along the length of Sunset Strip and presented it in a 27-foot long accordion foldout. Another ran along Hollywood Boulevard, once in 1973 and again in 2004. Even more closely related to this next item is his 14 palm trees, or better yet, 26 gas stations. Item 59 is Ruscha's Thirtyfour Parking Lots, published in 1974. Like the other photographs, these parking lots were in Los Angeles. They are shown in 31 photos taken from the air. The final photo is one a section of Wilshire Boulevard which runs across two pages. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Item 59. $1,000.

 

So, what is the missing link between Ruscha's gas stations and parking lots? Here it is. Cars. The title is We Will Never Be So Close Again, by Jules Spinatsch, published in 2006. This book consists of photos of drivers in cars next to Spinatsch's. He surreptitiously shot through his car windows. Good thing he did it unseen or he likely would have been the victim of road rage. Item 73. $350.

 

Next we turn to literary masterpieces. Item 102 is Lost House by Frances Shelley Wees. This is a Gothic mystery, one involving the drug trade. The cover image shows a terrified young woman in front of an old, Gothic house. Superimposed on it is an image of a large, half-filled hypodermic needle. This story was first run serially in Argosy in 1938. This edition was published by Harlequin in 1949. If that is surprising, it was not until the middle 1950s that Harlequin turned to publishing its trademark romances. At this time, the company was still located in far-off Winnipeg, Manitoba. Item 102. $750.

 

If you collect books that are a first of something, here is one that will fit your collection. The title is Corps Memorable, published in 1957. The text is by surrealist poet Paul Eluard, while photographs were taken by Lucien Clergue. The cover features a drawing by Pablo Picasso. There is even a dedicatory poem to Clergue by Jean Cocteau. As to what makes this a first, Cassidy, quoting Parr & Badger, explains it "was the first mainstream publication to show female pubic hair." There is a first for everything. Cassidy further explains that this was only possible at the time because the faces were not shown. How do you know whom to compliment? Item 62. $450.

 

Next we turn to a couple of books of a far more serious nature. These are terribly unpleasant. Item 90 is The Testimony of Nagasaki, published in 1970. It consists of photographs of survivors of the atomic bomb blast in Nagasaki in 1945, taken 25 years later. Text describes the survivors, their injuries and illnesses. $175. Item 122 is The Spotlight on Ohio's Black Crime, by T. J. Thomas and Dan W. Gallagher, published in 1930. This is an account of the fire at the Ohio Penitentiary on April 21, 1930. It was the worst prison fire in U. S. history, 322 inmates dying in the blaze. The book describes the prison before the fire, which the authors compare to a medieval torture chamber and 19th century prison ships. The book says that 5,000 inmates were housed in a prison built for 1,500. They also say that administrators and guards refused to open the cells to allow prisoners to escape the fire. The authors interviewed many inmates, and included 22 photographs, most showing the fire's aftermath. Cassidy notes that the book was poorly produced, likely meant only for local circulation, and appears to be very scarce. $450.

 

Brian Cassidy Bookseller may be reached at 301-589-0789 or books@briancassidy.net. The website is www.briancassidy.net.

Rare Book Monthly

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