Tolkein's Gown by Rick Gekoski

From: Dave Death
Category: Art
Date: 16 February 2006


Vignettes from the world of rare books by this leading antiquarian book seller. Each short chapter deals with a specific rare book that passed Gekoski's way, important in some historical way through being a first edition and often inscribed by the author to someone close to him.

Gekoski got into the trade in his late 30s after a career as an academic. Obviously quickly became very well connected - Ted Hughes offered him the inscribed copy of Collosus that Plath gave him; Graham Greene called him from time to time with rarities such as a book he'd had published in an edition of just 12, and the copy of Lolita that Nabokov inscribed to him. There's a lot of money in rare books, as you'll see if you look at Gekoski's latest catalogue. The book is a light, anecdotal read, with Gekoski's own opinions sometimes coming through - for instance in his dismissal of the 80s craze for magic realism, and his curiousity at why original manuscripts don't fetch more. The job sounds like fun, if one gets to his level - smooth-talking super-rich collectors and cash-strapped authors alike. An amusing book to be read in one sitting.