Friday, October 10, 2003

First editions

I rarely (read never) buy first edition hardback copies of fiction books. I usually wait for the paperback version, find a copy in the library, or buy it in a used bookstore. However, last night I picked up Shirley Hazzard's new novel, Great Fire. I rationalized the expenditure by figuring it's an investment of some sort (like when I found Alice Starmore's out of print Aran Knitting in a local yarn store last Christmas and snatched it up for $40. Used copies are now selling for $159.99 at Amazon. Not that I have any intention of selling the book, but, if I needed to, I could get a nice return on that $40.)

The real reason I bought the book is because I loved Hazzard's novel The Transit of Venus, one of those happy finds in a used bookstore I picked up knowing nothing about the author or book. [Edit 10/14/03: Uh, that's not quite how it happened. I first read about the book in May Sarton's journal At Seventy. "She reminded me of Shirley Hazzard's The Transit of Venus, which is about the best modern novel I have read in years. . . . (p. 300)] Her characters are described with incredible "emotional microscopy," in reviewer Thomas Mallon's words.

The Atlantic has a review of Hazzard's new book in their November issue, which is not yet online. I shall post the link here as soon as it is. [Edit 10/15/03: The review may be read here.]

[Edit 7:45 PM: Whilst searching Abebooks for something else, just for fun I looked up Aran Knitting. One copy is going for $275 at Marion Meyer Rare Books in NY, and another copy is selling for $312.50 at Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle.]

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