Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More Modern Firsts – Brautigan, Le Guin, Russ, Eco, Vonnegut etc.

It has certainly been interesting for me going through my bookshelves for the purpose of this blog. I have been struck by the fact that there are many books that I haven’t read in years, or even read a first time. A lot of them could do with a looking over in the future. Oh well, perhaps when I retire from work this can be accomplished.

So on with modern firsts...

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I found the Joanna Russ book Extraordinary People and Deborah Levy’s Beautiful Mutants on the remainder table at Reading Books a bookstore in Carlton – fine editions to add my library.

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I am proud to have first editions of Richard Brautigan’s The Hawkline Monster and Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, purchased when they were first published in 1974 and 1973 respectively. These two authors were immensely popular in 1960s and 70s though they are less read these days, more’s the pity. Brautigan was a unique stylist and Vonnegut was also part of that period of innovative and original writing which seemed to suddenly spring up in the late sixties and continued on into the seventies.

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The Dispossessed won Ursula Le Guin the Hugo in 1975. The 1975 World Science Fiction Convention was held for the first time in Australia in my home town of Melbourne and Ursula Le Guin was the Guest of Honour. At the time I working for a Science Fiction bookshop, Space Age Books, so I got to meet Ursula Le Guin in person and she signed my copy of the book.

Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum is one of those novels that people either love or hate. I know people who couldn’t be bothered reading it to the finish, but I am not one of them. I’ve even read it several times.

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Next, to get this Modern Firsts section over, are two fantasy novels acquired at the time of publication.

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Patricia McKillip's Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a delightful fantasy and one of her best loved books. It won the World Fantasy Award in 1975.

Another odd book is The Grey Gentlemen by Michael Ende. I think I bought this one for its cover, and though I did read it way back in the 1970s I can’t remember a thing about it.

And finally…

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Red Shift by Alan Garner and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, which won the Booker Prize in 1992, are practically the last of the modern firsts on the small bookshelf, though I have plenty more on the bigger shelves.

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