Naturalis historia. De terrarum gentiumque historia deque peregrinatione – This is the title of Dr. Paul Kainbacher's latest catalogue. I hardly know where to start, it is so full of rare and beautiful books. Before I mention a few of these treasures, let me stress what a handsome catalogue it is. The format is a generous quarto. The catalogue is profusely illustrated in colour throughout. There is at least one, often more, pictures of each item, and there is a real lay-out, with insets and details, not just your boring description plus picture. All in all, a feast for the eye.
While browsing through Ralph Sipper's booth at this past weekend's Los Angeles Antiquarian Book Fair, I came upon an interesting copy of book that at first seemed a little out of place at the fair: John Sanford's Every Island Fled Away. It's a 1964 novel that, these days, is typically a $30 – $40 book in collectible condition, and not that much more when signed or inscribed. Usually the booths at the three fairs sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (there's also a New York show in April and a Boston show in November) are full of the best antiquarian books for sale in the country and the world (read highest quality, and consequently highest priced). Dealers usually trot out their top material, and Ralph's booth was full of many stunning copies of notable literary first editions. Some of them, like his beautiful copy of William Faulkner's first novel, Soldiers' Pay, are genuinely rare in such condition. By comparison, the John Sanford book seemed to be a grade schooler lost at the senior prom.
For the small group of Mimeo Revolution obsessives, nothing is more hyped and spoken of in hushed tones than Sinking Bear. And what a special form of hype. What an appropriate form of hype!! It is the hype of word of mouth, of rumor. Of gossip. Like a band that nobody has actually seen play live, Sinking Bear for decades had never been read cover to cover. Nobody had even seen it. The hype stems in part from reading Reva Wolf's book on Warhol. She actually read an issue or two of Sinking Bear and was one of the few to consider the mag seriously. Except for maybe Diane Di Prima who wrote about Sinking Bear in her Recollections, which only added to the legend.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with David A. Noebel's theories of Commie Rock-n-Roll Mind Control, here's a sample: "…The destructive music of the Beatles merely reinforces the excitatory reflex of the youth to the point where it crosses the built-in inhibitory reflex. This in turn weakens the nervous system to a state where the youth actually suffers a case of artificial neurosis. And the frightening, even fatal, aspect of this mental breakdown process is the fact that these teenagers, in this excitatory, hypnotic state, can be told to do anything – and they will…