A. That First Affair and Other Sketches

A. That First Affair and Other Sketches

In the middle piece, “The Portraits,” an old thwarted love affair between two (now elderly) people is reprised by their grandchildren and finally consummated — with supernatural help effected through the mysterious mechanism of two portraits on either side of the Atlantic

Mitchell, J. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896. First edition. Octavo, pp. [1-4] [i-vi] vii-viii [1-2] 3-177 [178-180: blank]. Original green pictorial cloth, front panel stamped in ivory and gold, spine panel stamped in gold, top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. Illustrated with twenty inserted plates by C. D, Gibson, A. B. Frost, F. T. Richards, and J. A. Mitchell. First edition, first printing with half title reading “That First Affair” and “University Press” imprint on copyright page. Old dated ink ownership signature on front free endpaper. Small faint damp stain to rear cover, rubbing to cloth at edges, a very good copy overall. #1914. $100. The title story provides a decidedly un-Biblical and revisionary telling of the story of Adam puerto rican hot women and Eve, artfully blending irony and pathos, and sidestepping pitfalls that would have ruined most writers. “Mrs. Lofter’s Ride” vivisects the snobbery of the New York 400, generating surprisingly vital comedy along with corrosive satire. “The Man Who Vanished” is a mordant confection about the casual hunter who kills for “sport,” with a talking bear turning the tables on just such a figure — the story might have been titled, “The Hunted and the Hunters.” The last story, “A Bachelor’s Supper,” provides a bittersweet glance at the fate of an old bachelor who invites the presence of his seven old lovers to a Christmas Eve midnight supper. Are they actual shades or personified memories? The gentle wistfulness of the tone receives a sharp turn of the screw in the last sentence. This final story makes a nice bookend to the collection’s first tale, each painting the joys and agonies of an alternate approach to life — marriage vs. celibacy — and together reinforcing the old saw about women and the impracticability for men of living either with them or without them. An excellent collection. Mitchell brings a sure and light touch to material that is not at all lightweight. The results are amusing, provocative and oddly moving or surprisingly uncanny. Founding editor in the 1880s of Life magazine in its first incarnation (focused on humor and first-rate artwork), J. A. Mitchell, while tendentious in his longer fictions, is masterful (and woefully under-rated) in his handling of the short story, the most famous case being “The Last American” with its reversal of the usual lost race perspective. Bleiler (1978), p. 141. Reginald 10186. Wright (III) 3772. Bestandsnummer des Verkufers 1914

Collection of five short stories, all but one solidly fantastic or supernatural, the first, middle and last bringing various perspectives to bear on the subject of romantic love, with the other two acting as intermezzi

When I began my bookselling business in 1996 I called it “Eldritch Books” because that adjective at least partly covered the type of material I offered (and because its similarity to my own surname seemed so — eldritch). “Ghost stories” would be another handy, if somewhat reductive, term. Most of it is fiction from the 19th and early 20th century with a strong emphasis on the fantastic. Since the most familiar and relevant genre terms in use today — “science fiction,” “fantasy,” “supernatural,” “horror” — were not so much in use when these books were first published, pegging them that way can be anachronistic. But that should give you the general idea. I don’t have much in the way of American pulp (either in magazine or specialty press book form) but otherwise my interests range widely from high-brow to middle-brow to low-brow to amateur/eccentric. You’re more likely to find rare and obscure works here than high spots. (Or at least they’re obscure now, whatever their status was when first published.) In 2001 I went to work for L. W. Currey as cataloguer and general assistant. Since 2014 I’ve been back working on my own. I have exhibited at convention fairs (such as WFC and Readercon) in the past. I began collecting and studying antiquarian fantasy around 1980. Some of my essays have appeared in genre publications such as NYRSF, Wormwood and F&SF. I tend to carefully research my inventory and write extensive notes. (If another dealer wishes to make use of any of these notes, I’d appreciate the courtesy of putting such excerpts in quotes and giving proper attribution to me. That’s what I do when I quote from any of my reference works.) I will be gradually listing my inventory on ABE over the coming years. I hope you find something of interest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *