Lorne Bair Rare Books has issued a catalogue of One Hundred Recent Arrivals. This is nothing like any Bair catalogue I have encountered before. Lorne Bair generally features political and social works, mostly from well left of center. There is none of that here. The closest item to that sort of commentary comes from Ayn Rand, and she is well to the other side of the spectrum. Bair informs us that they have formed a modern literature department, and have started it with the purchase of a major American collection of 19th and 20th century literature. They are not kidding. The collection contains some 70,000 volumes. If you don't find precisely what you want here, you may want to give them a ring anyway. There are 69,900 more where these came from.
These first 100 are certainly well-known. Bair informs us they seriously considered naming this catalogue 100 Books You've Totally Heard Of, and I like that title better. Instead, for whatever reason, they settled for the “bland understatement.” They describe the selection here as “all key works well-known to collectors of British, American and Continental literature.” That they are, and if you are looking to fill a hole in your collection, you have come to the right place. Here are a few samples.
This is not the best known of Ernest Hemingway's books, though it is still highly collectible. Naturally, no Hemingway collection can be complete without it, but in a sense, no Hemingway collection can even begin without it. Item 38 is Papa's first book, Three Stories & Ten Poems, published in 1923. It is not easy to come by, there only having been 300 copies printed. Hemingway was living in Paris at the time, serving as an overseas newspaper correspondent and writing short stories. The novels were yet to come. During this period, he would meet many of the notable expatriate writers living in Paris, and it would be the start of one of the 20th century's most notable literary careers. Priced at $47,500.
Has he arrived yet? Evidently not. According to item 5, we are still Waiting For Godot. Is he coming? Who is he? Does he even exist? Does anyone really know what this play is about? Maybe Samuel Beckett does, since he wrote it, but I'm not even sure of that. It has been 61 years since this play was first published, and 59 years since this first edition of Beckett's own translation of this work was published, and we are still arguing over what it means. $3,750.
Item 46 is one of the few books in here written by someone not best known for his writing. It is a copy of Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? Published in 1967, it was written by Martin Luther King. It called for all people, regardless of race or party affiliation, to work together to fight for social justice and end poverty. It was the last of King's books published during his lifetime. This is a special copy. It is inscribed “To Aunt Woodie and Uncle Jerry For whom I have great Love and Respect and whose loyal support I cherish very deeply M.L.” Woodie King Brown was the sister of King's father. She lived in Detroit (until 1992 when she died at age 95). The inscription reflects King's feelings toward her. The use of the initials “M.L.” without the “K” was only used with close family. $9,500.