According to last week’s NY Times Sunday magazine, Christie’s is set to auction 75 first editions, including art books, each annotated by its author/artist, to raise funds for the PEN American Center. If you’re close to Rockefeller Plaza between now and December 2nd, you, too, can take a look at these one-of-a-kind items. Don’t drool, or they’ll kick you out.
The authors’ notes are much more interesting than any solitary signature could everbe. Junot Díaz points out his mistakes in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Jennifer Egan observes that the voice of one of her characters in A Visit From the Goon Squad
was influenced (“too much in its early stages”) by the character Junie B. Jones:
And George Saunders highlights the stories in his collection, Civil War in Bad Decline,
that were rejected or accepted by “The New Yorker.”
In theNY Times article, Philip Roth writes about Portnoy’s Complaint:“I am shocked and pleased: shocked that I could have been so reckless, pleased that I was so reckless.”
Later in his essay:
“One writes a repellent book (and “Portnoy’s Complaint” was taken by many to be solely that) not to be repellent but the represent the repellent, to air the repellent, to expose it, to reveal how it looks and what it is.”
Roth’s book will be on the auction block, along with Break It Down by Lydia Davis, Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson, and the books by George Saunders, Jennifer Egan, and Juno Díaz that I’ve already mentioned.
Christie’s website calls the auction: “First Edition, Second Thoughts.”
Take a look at the list:
Big name authors not mentioned by the NY Times include: Toni Morrison, Richard Ford, Neil Gaiman, Alice Walker, Sue Grafton, Michael Chabon, T.C. Boyle, Tobias Wolff, Paul Auster, Woody Allen—oh, and Eric Carle.
Yes! An annotated The Very Hungry Caterpillar!
Only a handful of books (art-related) include estimated sales prices. Serra 2013, Richard Serra’s catalog for his exhibition of new sculpture at Gagosian Gallery in New York,
is expected to raise between $10,000 to $15,000, and Julie Mehretu’s Grey Area, published by the Guggenheim,
is expected to fetch between $20,000 to $30,000. The Guggenheim’s website calls the book “a richly illustrated catalogue that provides unique insight into the artist’s intellectual and creative process…”
Each of these books with its marginalia should be considered a new work of art that will give readers—those peeping toms—
a voyeuristic thrill.
Got any spare change for bidding?
Thoughts on how much The Very Hungry Caterpillar will bring?
Now, I’m wondering if this event could be used as a new business model?
Authors could either annotate the digital versions of their work, similar to making notes on a Kindle, and sell those digital versions for a higher price, or sell handwritten annotated versions on Ebay or some other type of auction service.
Maybe this would improve the authorial bottom line? Maybe?