18 June 2011

Blackheath booksale 2011

Is it a year since the last Amnesty booksale? It seems barely 12 months. This year didn't seem quite as good; very little grabbed my attention, although I arrived precisely at 9am, joining the queue of about 30 people. People queuing for books! That's nice to see.

In the event all I bought were three Penguins from the 60s, largely because I like the design. Here's the first:

I've really only heard of William Plomer as the librettist of Britten's Gloriana, an opera that flopped largely because of its crap libretto, I believe. But it's a very nice illustration by Robin Jacques, which was clearly already old-fashioned when the book was published (in 1961).

Next is a book by one of those novelists who's always described as unfairly neglected.

Again, a charming illustration (by Paul Hogarth) on the cover of this 1962 edition, which is almost timeless. Only the rather heavy-handed hatching looks dated now. I haven't read any Bowen before and I'm really looking forward to this.

Finally, Jack Trevor Story, a writer who was absurdly prolific in his day, but the brevity of that Wikipedia entry shows how transient his fame has been.

This was published in 1963, and what a sudden transformation there's been. In many ways this is the most dated cover of the three precisely because it was so modern in its time. Designed by Martin Bassett, it clearly comes from the dawn of Beatledom, seen above all in the man's sharp suit (Italian, no doubt) and shoes. But it's a bit cautious: the woman's pose makes you think for a moment she's flashing her thighs,but she's actually wearing quite a sensible skirt. The back-cover matter has an unconvincing bluster to it:

You're bound to laugh at the clipped and bawdy dialogue of this social merry-go-round. But you'll also wince at the cutting edge of this brilliant writing.
Penguin could see it was on the edge of something different, but didn't quite know what to make of it.

I'm very pleased with these slim pickings, though. They were very cheap.

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