This Month's Topic: Books as Art
Offering a carefully curated selection of books for your consideration!
You will also find links to catalogs of additional books on a wide range of subjects.
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The Flyleaf: IOBA Newsletter
September 2017
This Month: Books as Art
There are books about art, books by artists, and "art books," and there are also books as art. No, I'm not talking about books that have been cut, burned, painted, folded, or altered to be - often small -  pieces of art. I mean a book that is so beautiful it is a piece of art in its original form.
A book - sheets of paper bound together between two covers - is appealing as an object of experience. Grasped in your hands, a book is a door or window offering new information and new experiences.  
But a book can simply be a thing of beauty. Covers of unique materials or images, pages of beautiful papers, end papers that would look beautiful framed, gilt or painted edges - all of these can make a book a piece of art, a "book as art."
 A First: 5-squarefoot Dust Jacket! 
McSweeny's Quarterly Concerns, Issue 23 by Dave Eggers, editor

Publisher: McSweeney's
Place of Publication: San Francisco, CA (2007)
Binding: Hardcover
Edition: First Edition
Signed by the Dave Eggers

Every story gets its own front and back cover, drawn, collaged, or embroidered by the polymathic Andrea Dezso. The whole thing is wrapped in a jacket that unfolds into five square feet of double-sided glory - spread it out one way for dozens of very short stories by Dave Eggers, arranged in what we're pretty sure is a volvelle; flip it over and witness all those Dezso illustrations stitched into one unbroken expanse.

In addition, a small "trial size" Comedy by Numbers booklet is attached to the back board. Available here.
A Beautiful Banned Book! 
Maud and Other Poems by Alfred Tennyson

Publisher: Lothrop Publishing Company
Date of Publication: c. 1900
Binding: Hardcover

Maud and other poems was Alfred Tennyson's first collection after becoming poet laureate in 1850, published in 1855. Among the "other poems" was "The Charge of the Light Brigade," which had already been published in the Examiner a few months before. It was considered a disgrace to society in the early days of its release and was banned for eight and a half years, until popular demand made it available to read once more.

The ban was reportedly commissioned due to suggestive themes and supposedly biased opinions toward the current government opposition, which were later confirmed false by Tennyson, while also expressing his own judgement on the whole event as "a bit of a joke." Another "other poems" was "Come into the Garden." Available here.
Myrtle Reed, Author  
Myrtle Reed was born on September 27, 1874, in Norwood Park, Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of her parents' three children and their only daughter. She was the daughter of author Elizabeth Armstrong Reed and the preacher Hiram von Reed.

Myrtle Reed
She graduated from the West Division High School, Chicago, where she edited the school's newspaper called The Voice, during which time corresponded with James Sydney McCullogh, a young Irish-Canadian who was editing a college newspaper in Toronto. Reed married McCullough in 1906, after a courtship of nearly 15 years.

She was a diagnosed insomniac with prescribed sleeping drafts. Myrtle Reed died on August 17, 1911, aged 36, of an overdose of sleeping powder taken with suicidal intent in her flat, called "Paradise Flat" at 5120 Kenmore Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

Her suicide letter, written to her maid, Annie Larsen, was published the following day. Her will directed her estate be divided among eight charities that for several years had been favorites of their benefactor; however, her estate was subjected to at least two different lawsuits. Paradise Flat, the residence in which she died, was burgled during her funeral; among the stolen items were several deluxe or signed, slipcased, limited-edition novels.

A famous epigram of Myrtle Reed, taken from Threads of Gray and Gold, declares: "The only way to test a man is to marry him. If you live, it's a mushroom. If you die, it's a toadstool."
(Thank you, Wikipedia!)
A Spinner in the Sun by Myrtle Reed

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons/The Knickerbocker Press
Place of Publication: New York NY (1910 reprint)
Binding: Hardcover

Evelina Grey returns to her home town after being away for twenty five years. She is frail and her face is veiled at all times. He neighbors help her clean up her house and garden. Araminta Lee, a young girl who is helping Evenlina injures her ankle while cleaning. She is treated by the new young doctor in town and must have total bed rest at Evelina's house.

Both Araminta and Evelina grow as people as a result of this experience, and the people surrounding them grow as well. What is the secret behind Evelina's veil and what will happen if her secret gets out?
Available here.
(Description from a new edition produced by Pinnacle Press.)
The Master of the Vineyard by Myrtle Reed
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons/The Knickerbocker Press
Place of Publication: New York NY (1910)
Binding: Hardcover
Edition: First Edition

"Why don't you sell the vineyard?" she asked, though her heart sank at the mere suggestion.

"Sell it? Why didn't the Ancient Mariner sell his albatross and take a nice little trip around the world on the proceeds? Mother would die of a broken heart if I mentioned it to her. The Marsh family have been the slaves of that vineyard since the first mistaken ancestor went into the grape business. We've fertilised it, pruned it, protected it, tied it up, sat up nights with it, fanned the insects away from it, hired people to pick the fruit and pack it, fed the people, entertained them, sent presents to their wives and children-we've done everything! And what have we had for it? Only a very moderate living, all the grapes we could eat, and a few bottles of musty old wine.

"Mother, of course, has very little to do with it, and, to her, it has come to represent some sort of entailed possession that becomes more sacred every year. It's a family heirloom, like a title, or some very old and valuable piece of jewelry. Other people have family plate and family traditions, but we've got a vineyard, or, to speak more truthfully, it has us."
 Bottom's Up!   
BOURBON by Walker Percy  

Publisher: Palaemon Press, Limited
Place of Publication: Winston-Salem, NC (1981)
Binding: Hardcover
Edition: First Edition
Signed by the Author

First published in Esquire in December of 1975, this is a humorous piece on "the aesthetic of bourbon drinking in general and in particular of knocking it back neat."

Includes a postscript with a recipe for mint julep.

A new copy in beige quarter cloth over boards with decorated blue handmade paper in the original acetate wrapper. Number 44 of 150 copies.
Available here.
Dealer Catalogues and Varia
  • J. Patrick McGahern Books, Catalog 258: Rare, Scarce, & Interesting Books (PDF)
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