Fave Bookstore Find of the Day; Nice Price At a Price

Fave Bookstore Find of the Day

The other day while browsing around my favorite used bookstore, Rodgers Book Barn, with two New Yorker pals (John Cuneo and Danny Shanahan) the above book caught my eye because of the Thurber drawing.  My eyes widened when I realized I had never seen this particular book before (or had I?).  It turned out to be a British revised edition of How To Raise A Dog In the City and In The Suburbs, published by Simon & Schuster in 1938. This new found edition, retitled, The Town Dog: Education Breeding, Grooming, Health, Love-Life,  was published by Harvill Press in 1954.  Below is the US second printing of How To Raise A Dog…(this dust jacket was screen-grabbed, as my copy lacks one).  Thurberites will recognize one of the co-authors, Ann Honeycutt, for whom Thurber famously carried a torch. See either Burton Bernstein’s bio Thurber, or Harrison Kinney’s Thurber: His Life and Times for a whole lot more on that subject.

Thurber’s drawings in the book (any edition published in any country) are really fun. They’re Thurber dog drawings — how could they not be fun!

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A Nice (George) Price At A Price

Stephen Nadler, over at Attempted Bloggery has posted the particulars for something you don’t see up for auction all that much: an original George Price drawing, with color. Go here to see all the scans and read all about it.

 

About Thurber

My my my, there certainly are a lot of books about my cartoonist hero,  James Thurber. I thought it would be fun to show the ones in the Spill‘s library, but ran into two more while checking online for any current titles I’d missed ( #11, listed below, is out just this month…are there even more? Let me know). Three of the books below have been indispensable to me: Burton Bernstein’s biography,  Bowden’s bibliography, and Harrison Kinney’s massive biography.  I bought Mr. Bernstein’s biography while in college along with Brendan Gill’s Here At the New Yorker.  Those two books (along with The Thurber Carnival) were my rocket fuel to Manhattan and to the pages of the New Yorker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(pictured at the top of the post: a Thurber eraser)

 

1. James Morsberger.  James Thurber. Twaynes United States Authors Series, 1964.

2. Edwin T. Bowden.  James Thurber: A Bibliography. Ohio State University Press,  1968.

3. Richard C. Tobias. The Art of James Thurber. Ohio University Press, 1969.

4. Charles S. Holmes.  The Clocks of Columbus. Athenium, 1972.

5. Burton Bernstein. Thurber.  Dodd, Mead, 1975.

6. Robert Emmet Long.  James Thurber.  Continuum, 1988.

7. Thomas Fensch (Ed.). Conversations With James Thurber. University Press of Mississippi, 1989.

8. Neil A. Grauer.  Remember Laughter: A Life of James Thurber. University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

9. Harrison Kinney.  James Thurber: His Life and Times. Henry Holt, 1995.

10. Alan Vanneman.  James Thurber: A Readers Guide. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

11. Bob Hunter.  Thurberville. Trillium, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capote and New Yorker Cartoons

   Reading the Holly Golightly piece (“Forever a Gamine at Tiffany’s”) in today’s New York Times revived a thought I had lodged in my mental “to do” file a few weeks ago when I had the pleasure of meeting Thurber biographer, Burton Bernstein.

 

Listening to  Mr. Bernstein expanding upon a passage from his biography concerning (the nearly blind) Thurber being led around The New Yorker’s offices and elsewhere by Capote,  got me to thinking about the legend of Capote throwing away cartoons while assisting in The New Yorker’s art department.

 

Before we get to that, here’s a very brief look at Capote’s earliest days at the magazine. In late 1942 or early 1943, he was hired, while still attending school, as a New Yorker copyboy – a catch-all job that apparently included sharpening pencils, running errands (and yes, leading Thurber around).  After a time he was given the plum job of assisting in the art department (according to some, this came out of his close friendship with office manager, Daise Terry).

 

Capote’s new duties included sorting through incoming envelopes of unsolicited cartoons and attending  the art meeting where his job was to place selected drawings on an easel. Each drawing would be examined and discussed by Harold Ross, Rea Irvin, fiction editor, Gus Lobrano, and the temporary art editor, Albert Hubbell (filling in for James Geraghty who’d gone off to serve his country).  Daise Terry would take notes on the comments.

 

Albert Hubbell told Gerald Clarke that up until Capote worked the easel, all previous assistants were like “automatons” — Capote, however, would laugh, make faces and comment on the cartoons.  This led Ross to instruct Hubbell:  “Tell him to stop that.”

 

Capote’s copyboy/art assistant days at The New Yorker lasted until the summer of 1944 (his leaving came on the heels of an oft told misunderstanding between Capote and the poet, Robert Frost that eventually led Harold Ross to ban Capote from the offices).

 

 

And now on to throwing away cartoons.  I’d first come across the story in Brendan Gill’s Here At The New Yorker:

 

The story goes that after Capote’s departure from the magazine, it was discovered that he had been serving as a sort of self-appointed art editor. One of his tasks was to open the envelopes that contained drawings sent in by artists from all around the country; when Capote didn’t like a drawing, he dropped it over the far edge of the big table at which he worked. Years passed, and someone thought to move the table. Behind it were found hundreds of drawings that Capote had peremptorily rejected, instead of sending them along to Geraghty or Ross. True or false? Nobody knows, for Capote anecdotes are hard to check.

 

 

So did he, or didn’t he?  This morning, in a stab at clarity, I gathered the Capote material* at hand on these premises and came up with a couple of puzzle pieces.

 

During many many hours of conversation, conducted over the last two years of Capote’s life, writer Lawrence Grobel had this exchange with Capote about the disappearing cartoons:

 

Grobel: Is there any truth to the story… that you appointed yourself an art editor, rejecting submitted drawings you didn’t like by dropping them behind a table where you worked?

Capote:  No. Where’d you hear that?

Grobel: It’s in Brendan Gill’s book.

Capote: “Well, I was in the art department but I wasn’t throwing away people’s cartoons.”

 

And, Capote told his biographer, Gerald Clarke:

 

Sometimes I would get the cartoons all messed up and confused. Then I would throw them into one of those holes  and say to myself,  ‘Well, I’ll straighten that out later.’  I somehow happened to lose about seven hundred of them that way. I didn’t deliberately destroy them, and I don’t know how I lost track of them.

 

Despite it being a more colorful story that Capote appointed himself editor and/or destroyed or threw away cartoons, it’s far more believable that the 17 year old Capote was overwhelmed by the volume of unsolicited cartoons (reportedly thousands a week) coming into the office and inadvertently lost track of many of them.  But of course, as Brendan Gill suggested, we’ll never really know.

*Books consulted:

Bernstein, Burton  Thurber (Dodd, Mead, 1975)

Clarke, Gerald   Capote: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, 1988) pp. 71 – 73.

Clarke, Gerald  Too Brief A Treat; The Letters of Truman Capote (Random house, 2004)

Gill, Brendan   Here At The New Yorker (Random House, 1975)  p.317

Grobel, Lawrence   Conversations with Capote (New American Library, 1985) p.56

Inge, M. Thomas   Truman Capote: Conversations (University Press of Mississippi, 1987)

Plimpton, George   Truman Capote (Nan A.Talese/Doubleday, 1997)