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Obscure (& Awesome) Books Unearthed from the Upstairs Dollar Section of The Last Bookstore in Historic, Art Deco Era, Downtown Los Angeles, Part I: A Couple of Comedians by Don Carpenter

If you've been there, you know.  You know that The Last Bookstore is the best bookstore you've ever been to.  For me, there's not a close runner-up, not even from my memory of a defunct legend like Acres of Books.   Much has been made of The Last Bookstore's spectacular style; yet it's substance is just as spectacular, particularly for bibliophiles who put on their camouflage and go hunting deep inside their virtual jungle of dollar books.  Case in point: A Couple of Comedians by the late great Don Carpenter.

my copy of the first printing
Don Carpenter was a revelation to me when several years ago I first read the NYRBs reissue of his first published novel Hard Rain Falling, which was actually the fourth novel Carpenter had written, but the first three he wrote, according to his website (currently undergoing maintenance or I'd have linked it), are lost.  Or rather destroyed by Carpenter.

Who was Don Carpenter?  He was a talented novelist and screenwriter: those are the two most pertinent and basic facts you need to know.  Until NYRB intervened, Don Carpenter was completely out of print.  Forgotten by most but for his fellow colleagues and hardcore fans who kept the then waning legacy of this under appreciated writer's writer alive.  A Couple of Comedians, like all his novels, wasn't a bestseller upon it's publication in 1979.  Even if the NYRB were to reissue it (it's actually been recently reissued as part of The Hollywood Trilogy omnibus published last year by Counterpoint) I suspect it still wouldn't be one of their bestsellers, but owning it, having salvaged it (and so what if it's a library discard that was never checked out, it's a first printing of an out of print novel by Don Carpenter!) is absolutely priceless to me.  A first printing from the 1970s by a writer who, except for a few recent reissues (and may those reissues -- thank you Counterpoint and NYRB! -- keep on coming), are largely long gone.  Long gone, that is, unless you were perusing the upstairs dollar section of the Last Bookstore on a lazy Sunday morning not too long ago, like me, and found Don Carpenter's gem A Couple of Comedians.


More obscure (& awesome) books unearthed from the upstairs dollar section of The Last Bookstore in historic, Art Deco era, downtown Los Angeles, coming soon. . . .


Séamus Duggan said…
Carpenter is unknown to me, although you have piqued my interest. I am surrounded by books from charity shops and secondhand bookstores, more, unfortunately, than I ma likely to have time to read. But I can't resist adding to the pile.
Enrique Freeque said…
Hey thanks, Seamus! I think you'd probably enjoy a writer like Don Carpenter. Hard Rain Falling was pretty damn moving; it's a great place to start with him. You know, I acquire books sometimes just for the sake of acquiring books, to collect and enjoy, or to sell sometimes, and many I'll never have time to read. But that's okay. I just love being around books.

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