Finding The Last Western by Thomas S. Klise at a Thrift Store for $1.49

The Last Western by Thomas S. Klise, the first and only novel he published (who is this guy, and why is this book so expensive to buy online?) was lost, but now is found.  Oh far be it for me to boast, but why exactly are people paying $60.00 online for a second hand, mass market paperback like the one I bought below, for a paltry $1.49.  Though I need to add, for sake of accuracy and honesty, that it was a 30% off Friday 4pm -- close, at the thrift store I regularly frequent, so the final sale price for my copy of The Last Western ended up being only $1.04 plus nine cents tax, for a total purchase price of $1.13.   By the looks of the creased spine and the minor frayed corners and signs of shelf wear and heavy use on its cover (though the copy is perfectly clean as far as I can tell) I'm thinking maybe I got ripped off paying $1.13 for this Argus Communications (A Division of DLM, Inc. / Allen, Texas 75002 U.S.A.) first printing of this mass market paperback.

Does anybody know why people pay so much online for a copy like this?  Why is it out of print if it's  in such demand.  Why doesn't Dzanc reissue it?  Or Dalkey Archive?  Or Green Integer?  Walter Miller was so impressed by the book, he wrote in his review in Commonweal as if he were speaking directly to Thomas S. Klise, writing,

"Thomas S. Klise, you have written more than a novel, you have written a revolution.  Not since the first time I read Moby Dick have I so enjoyed an American novel."

And that was just the blurb on the back of the book.  Look to the left at what Walter Miller is quoted as gushing on the front cover of the book.  The "turning point ... the final climax" in American literature! No wonder people who haven't found the book, as I have, for $1.13 at the thrift store, are willing to spend fifty, sixty bucks for it online.  Damn Walter Miller has got them all hyped up for it!  Is the hype deserved?  I'm so hyped, I'm afraid to open The Last Western, let alone read it, if it is indeed worth so much.  Should I?  I mean read it?  Get my sticky fingerprints all over the unknown, alleged masterpiece?  Or maybe I should just stare at it instead?  Be like The Man Who Stared at The Last Western like it were goats.  I'm perplexed.  Why is this novel so special?  Why is it rated so high on both Goodreads and LibraryThing?  As of April 19th, 2013, it has a 4.58 rating on LT.  Granted, less than forty people even own it there (it has twenty-five ratings on GR) but those who do, the ones who've read it, think very highly of it obviously, enough to stick their neck out for it with slews of five star ratings -- even though it's been out of print for nearly forty years.  Klise died four years after its publication, which probably accounts for some of its disappearance.  But it can't account for it all, can it?  Even so, the book is clearly alive.  Some people, I fear, who spent crazy money online for it recently, for The Last Western, may become crazed hearing that I bought it for only $1.13.  I hope it's safe what I'm doing, posting this post, saying I only spent $1.13 for it....

Did I say I bought it for only $1.13?  Oh dear, silly me, those damn decimal points, holy cow how they just up and jump two places to the left of their own volition sometimes.  Yeah, that's it.  I really bought this book for $113.  See how crazy for The Last Western I am?  I can't stand people who brag about paying an absurdly low sum for it at the thrift store.


  1. Gee Mr. Higgins, I just bought one of the two used copy’s on "" for only
    $4.50 today. I don't know what all excitement is all about.

  2. Ha. Yeah sure you did, Mr. Olivo.

  3. Well, I did buy my copy at a yard sale, I think it was 50 cents, then I read it. It was pretty good, took it to Powell's today and they bought it and 3 other so-so books from me for 19 dollars and change, said that one book would sell for 45 dollars. Guess I should check values before selling, but oh well I came out ahead and I like Powell's.


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