Free Live Free

Gene Wolfe
Free Live Free (1984)

This is a kind of a mini-Close Up.  I would like to show-case the book and I also have a gripe to air.  First let’s look at the book, and I’ll illustrate my gripe later.  It’s a large hardcover (Medium Octavo I think) and has rather impressive, bright cover art.

Just as an aside, I picked this up from my girlfriend’s place last weekend and brought it back to camp with me.  The photography was done with my iPhone 4S.  Lets check out the back.

A beautiful wrap-around cover.  This First Edition was limited to 750 copies of which this is number 39.

You can see Mr Wolfe’s signature at the head of the list there on the front free endpaper.  But wait, what are the other three signatures?  Well, second on the list is Carl Lundgren who is responsible for that lovely wrap-around cover.  The next belongs to Richard A. Schindler.

Richard Schindler drew the nice little images that introduce each chapter.  This book also has some (not many) full page illustrations by the last signatory, Rick DeMarco.

Another little interesting inclusion with the book is a special bookplate laid in.  I know it must be special because the artist, though not given the distinction of his own signature in the book, is mentioned with the others on the copyright page.  Joe Shea is his name.

Nice.  Well, that’s the cool stuff out of the way.  Now for the gripe.  I’ll use this book by way of example.

When people – individuals, vendors, whatever – list their wares (books in this case) on eBay or any other online avenue, they should be thorough.  Please look at the book.  Please pick it up and turn it over.  Please open it and have a look inside.  Please take descriptive photographs that don’t cut the edges off or omit crucial parts of the book.  Please list it accurately.  I talked about my recent issue with The Menace From Earth (that was well taken care of by the vendor), and there are other examples that I could mention as well, but I would like to bring this particular book to attention.  We looked at the great cover art earlier, but what a front and back view doesn’t reveal, and what wasn’t mentioned by the vendor (who claimed not to have noticed) was this:

You can see that the jacket doesn’t meet the very high expectations laid down by the front and back images.  Goddam sunning.  I can’t believe that someone selling a very collectable book wouldn’t notice this.  This really disappoints me.  It really, really does.  To be at least a little fair, the buyer (me) does have a responsibility to ask some questions like “Can you please tell me if there is any sunning on the spine?” or something similar.  But when the vendor lists the book as ‘very fine+’ then one shouldn’t really be held at fault for not doing so.  Anyway, that’s off my chest (for the time-being at least) so we’ll try to move on to more positive things.  I hope Seetee Ship doesn’t harbor any nasty surprises…  and where the hell is Lost Continents??

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2 Responses to “Free Live Free”

  1. On a secret island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean along with Jack, Kate and Hugo??? Nice to know Sawyer will at last have something decent to read…

  2. Completely agree with you on how sellers tend to overlook things which are basically essential when grading (or simply describing) a book. Spine sunning is my pet peeve (after all, this is the part of the book you will see for most of its life) and too many people claim they didn’t notice… Yeah, right…
    You’re just glad you don’t buy in France. Most vendors here sell “very fine copies” which turn out in 80% of the cases to be what I call reading copies… You have to be very careful and ask many questions; which tends to become boring…

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