Off the Shelf Atlanta: Patrick O’Brian & Cormac McCarthy

Atlanta McCarthyI’m an unconventional tourist. My targets when I visit a city tend to be off-beat historical sites, interesting places to eat, and thrift stores. A recent trip to Atlanta stuck to type as this, and upcoming posts, will show.

One of the places you can find remarkably good books is in a thrift store. Like with clothes, there is more junk than gems. But good books are more financially accessible than good clothes (good books cost the same as bad books, while good clothes cost considerably more than bad clothes), which means more potential donations.

The first find of interest was a pair of Patrick O’Brian novels. Now one will come across odd volumes of his Aubrey-Maturin series all along, particularly trade paperback copies. More rare are O’Brian’s other books, the ones that fall outside his naval series. About twenty years ago, at the height of Aubrey-Maturin popularity, W.W. Norton began re-issuing these other novels by O’Brian in an effort to capitalize on his overall success.

Atlanta OBrian

Testimonies was O’Brian’s first novel, a story with nothing to do with the sea. O’Brian’s The Golden Ocean is of interest as it is a naval tale written before his career-making Aubrey-Maturin series began.

Previously published, these would be considered “first-thus” editions, that is, the first printings of this re-issued edition. The price of the true firsts would be astronomical due to what certainly would have been small print runs decades ago.

Later I came across this first printing of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing, second in his Border Trilogy that began with the well-known All the Pretty Horses. One finds copies, even hardcover, of the Border Trilogy books all along, but they are invariably of a later printing. I always check the copyright page just in case, and this time, indeed, it was a first printing.

So check the books when you’re at the thrift store. One never knows what can turn up. And sometimes one also may be rewarded with a valuable find in the DVD section. Narf!

Atlanta Book Stack

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