Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2008 Issue

Waverly Books Features Literature, Film, Sports, Etc.

Waverly

The latest from Waverly Books.


By Michael Stillman

Waverly Books has published its List 160 of books and related items for sale. Most of the works offered are from the 20th century, with literature, film, mystery, and sports predominant. If this is your field, then you should find much of interest among the 184 items in this latest offering. Here are a few.

Item 127 is a photoplay of what is probably the greatest of American political films: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Every election cycle we replay the longing for another Mr. Smith, the honest but naïve citizen who goes to the Senate and stands up for the little people against the myriad special interests that dominate government. Unfortunately, waiting for Mr. Smith is like waiting for Godot. This 1940 second printing contains numerous photographs from the movie, with the cover featuring Jimmy Stewart (Mr. Smith) and costar Jean Arthur. Priced at $150.

In the real world, politicians are rarely naïve outsiders such as Mr. Smith. Item 132 is a biography of the ultimate insider, a politician who knew every trick to make the system work: The Professional: Lyndon B. Johnson. William S. White's book was published in 1964, when Johnson was at the height of his popularity. Johnson's legacy is perhaps the most mixed of any president, combining the greatest advances in civil right and help for the poor with the tragedy of the Vietnam War. This copy of White's work is signed by LBJ. $350.

Item 49 is a first trade edition of William Faulkner's The Wild Palms. This 1939 work, now often subtitled "If I Forget Thee Jerusalem," weaves two stories together. One, "The Wild Palms," tells of a turbulent love affair, the second, "Old Man," of an escaped convict during the time of a flood. Faulkner alternates chapters from each tale through the course of the book. $1,650.

Boxing is rarely connected to literature, except when it's boxing literature. Here the fist meets the head, figuratively rather than literally. Item 24 is Somebody Up There Likes Me, by Rocky Graziano (with Rowland Barber). This is a 1955 first edition of the life of Graziano, a street kid overcoming a youth filled with crime and abuse, to become middleweight boxing champion. This real-life Rocky held the crown for only a year, from 1947-48, but earned a reputation as one of the hardest punchers in the sport. This book was made into a film in 1956 and Graziano had the good fortune to be portrayed by Paul Newman. In the years after this book, Rocky went on to have a minor career under the spotlight as a comedian and actor. $150.

Perhaps the most controversial boxer ever, or at least pre-Ali, was Jack Johnson. In an era when blacks were not permitted to participate in most professional sports, or even appear in many public places, Johnson managed to embarrass a white heavyweight champion into a fight, which he won handily. From 1908-1915 he ruled the division, much to the consternation of whites. He defeated a host of "great white hopes" using his superior boxing skills at a time when most fighters did little more than punch. Despite the enormous prejudice and discrimination he faced, Johnson refused to be subservient, always speaking and doing as he pleased, usually with a smile. How he survived his era is hard to fathom. Item 26 is Jack Johnson - In The Ring - And Out. Johnson's book was published in 1927. $200.

You may reach Waverly Books at 310-393-4593 or waverlybks@aol.com. Their website is www.waverlybooks.com.

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