Thursday, February 25, 2010

Picador Books – Part 3 – Jan Harold Brunvand, Robert Byron & Italo Calvino

Continuing in alphabetical sequence, the first book on display is Jan Harold Brunvand’s fascinating study of Urban Legends, The Vanishing Hitchiker and Robert Byron’s quite wonderful travelogue of his journey through Afghanistan and Persia in the 1930s, The Road To Oxiana. The Picador edition of this book contains a foreword by Bruce Chatwin.

brunvand_hitchhiker byron_roadtooxiana1981

Now on to more Calvino


calvino_castle calvino_marcovaldo


Next – Peter Carey, Angela Carter, Bruce Chatwin and Lindsay Clarke

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Picador Books – Part 2 – Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan enjoyed great popularity among the counter culturists of the 1960s and 70s as the result of the success of his book Trout Fishing In America, which was a best seller. These days his name is not well known, though he deserves to be more widely recognised. His books have a quirky charm and are highly original. I remember taking along one or other of his books when I had to go for an interview at the Dole Office at a time when I was unemployed. It was generally a long wait, and Brautigan’s books were just the perfect type of book to kill the time.

Picador published most of his books in the 1970s with the classic covers featuring himself with a girl.


brautigan_congeneral brautigan_watermelon
brautigan_abortion brautigan_sombrero

More Picadors coming soon…

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Picador Books – Part 1

In 1972 I was working in a bookshop in Melbourne when the first books in Picador were issued. Included among those first published was Heroes & Villains by Angela Carter, which was indeed my first introduction to her books. Picador was an imprint of Pan Books, now Pan Macmillan and its aim was to publish outstanding International fiction in paperback. They had wonderful cover art, which makes them ideal Eye Candy for Bibliophiles.

For many years I collected Picadors as they were released, so I have a fair collection of the early issued books.

For the purpose of this blog, I’ll present them as always in alphabetical, rather than chronological order.

So to start off Renata Adler’s Speedboat, and Fantomas by Marcel Allain & Pierre Souvestre

adler_speedboat allain_souvestre_fantomas

Then there’s Gazelle Boy by Jean-Claude Armen


And Julian Barnes wonderful A History of the World in 10½ Chapters and Flaubert’s Parrot.

barnes_history barnes_parrot

Murphy by Samuel Beckett


Great Granny Webster by Caroline Blackwood - a short but great novel

Jorge Luis Borges - A Personal Anthology with cover art by Hundertwasser


Next entry will cover Richard Brautigan.

Friday, February 19, 2010

General Fiction – Janwillem van de Wetering, Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut & Edith Wharton

This will be the last mass market paperback post for the moment, though I will be returning to this sort of book later on.

The two Janwillem van de Wetering books below are not actually fiction, but rather his description of his experiences in Zen Buddhist monasteries in Japan and America, They are quite entertaining to read. He is best known for his series of detective novels set in Amsterdam featuring engaging detectives, Grijpstra and De Geir, which I will get to later on and have already mentioned in an earlier post.

vandewetering_emptymirror vandewetering_nothingness

Next, the sole book by Gore Vidal in my collection – Myra Breckinridge with a really cool cover published by Panther in 1969.


So, onto my paperback collection of Kurt Vonnegut, published in the early to late 1970s – a mix of British and American editions.

vonnegut_catscradle1972 vonnegut_mothernight1971
vonnegut_playerpiano1972 vonnegut_titan1972
vonnegut_monkeyhouse1972 vonnegut_rosewater1972
vonnegut_slapstick1978 vonnegut_slaughterhouse1970

And finally a rather pretty set of Edith Wharton novels published by Berkley in 1981.

wharton_custom1981 wharton_newyork1981
wharton_roman wharton_summer

Coming soon – Picador books

Thursday, February 18, 2010

General Fiction (sort of) – Robert Sabbag, Anthony Scaduto, South American Novelists, Dylan Thomas & John Kennedy Toole

Now, where was I up to?

Yes, books by authors whose name begins with S and T.

The first of these is Snow Blind by Robert Sabbag, a drug culture novel.


And Rock ‘n Roll is represented by Tony Scaduto’s biography of Mick Jagger


Mass market paperbacks of South American writers – Miguel Angel Asturias, Strong Wind, Conversations With Jorge Luis Borges by Richard Burgin and In Evil Hour by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

south_america_asturias_wind south_america_borges_conversations south_america_marquez_evilhour

Here are two rather old paperbacks - a novel and stories by Dylan Thomas, The Beach At Falesa (Panther1966) and Rebecca’s Daughter & Me and My Bike (Sphere1968)

thomas_beach1966 thomas_tales1968

And finally, the first paperback edition (Grove Press 1981) of the famous, posthumously published novel of John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces.


Next – Van de wetering, Vonnegut, Vidal and Wharton.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

General Fiction – Tom Robbins, Damon Runyon, Salman Rushie & Russian Novelists

Tom Robbins was certainly an author for the ‘60s & ‘70s with his wild, weird and wonderfully politically incorrect novels. I have most of them in my library. It was Another Roadside Attraction that first introduced me to his writings and I generally acquired his books religiously for many years, though have tapered off over the past decade or so.

robbins_attraction robbins_cowgirls


robbins_skinnylegs robbins_jitterbug


Damon Runyon to quote Wikipedia “…was best known for his short stories celebrating the world of Broadway in New York City that grew out of the Prohibition era. To New Yorkers of his generation, a "Damon Runyon character" evoked a distinctive social type from the Brooklyn or Midtown demi-monde. The adjective "Runyonesque" refers to this type of character as well as to the type of situations and dialog that Runyon depicted.”

His style is whimsical and colloquial and makes for a very enjoyable reading experience. I have two Runyon collections in Picador editions, and also this one, published in 1966.


Before Salman Rushdie became famous with Midnight’s Children winning the Booker Prize in 1981, his first published book, Grimus, was generally disregarded. I have read it, but can’t remember a thing about it. Anyway, here’s the cover of the mass market paperback published in 1977 by Panther.


And finally for this post – two Russian novelists, Mikhail Bulgakov, the author of the fabulous The Master and Margarita (Fontana 1969), and classic writer Nikolai Gogol’s The Diary of a Madman (Signet 1960)

russian_bulgakov_master russian_gogol_madman

Next – Novelists whose names start with “S” and “T” and South American authors.