Joseph McElroy's autograph (Ship Rock: A Place)

I suppose I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the bookseller I bought my limited edition, signed copy of Ship Rock: A Place, from -- an online book seller based in Albuquerque, New Mexico -- did not understand the true value of the slim volume by Joseph McElroy that he'd listed for sale.  Understandable.  Suppose you were a book seller without an appreciation for, or knowledge of, the so-called-critic/academic-labeled "postmodern movement" in U.S. literature of the 1960s-90s, why wouldn't you think automatically to yourself at first glance that this diminutive book, if it can be rightly called a "book" at less than fifty pages, was not in fact just a local guide about the real place, Ship Rock, a mere 160 miles as the crow flies from Albuquerque.  After all, the book, Ship Rock, even has "A Place" in its title, right? so why wouldn't you think it anything more than some touristy spiel regarding that mysterious rock outcrop in New Mexico's northwest corner that, for like the last forty years or so, the overseers of the reservation up there whose property rights include every rugged inch of it, Ship Rock, have seen fit, in their wisdom and because of its historic sacredness in their religion and native culture, to ban access to it to everyone forever, most notably daredevil climbers but also including other kooky looky-loos such as yours truly, who, if they were just a kooky looky-loo like me, were perhaps first inspired to take the journey to Ship Rock by Joseph McElroy's Ship Rock: A Place itself, and so went and made that long-day's drive from southern California to that remote corner of New Mexico in order to see Ship Rock themselves?

Add to the fact that this hard cover edition of Ship Rock: A Place, came as issued without a dust jacket or isbn, and was published by ...  William B. Ewert? ... whom you'd probably never heard of before, and was published, moreover, in a limited run of only "226 copies printed letterpress from Caledonia type on Mohawk Superfine text"... why wouldn't you think it was, sure enough, just another vanity press publication, certainly valueless, a locals-only-commentary about an eccentric example of New Mexican geography that no one outside the Four Corners region would ever give a hoot about?  I get it.  How could you, online book seller based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, possibly guess that the little book you had in your possession was the earliest published excerpt -- and arguably the most obscure (though there are others*) -- from Women and Men, the classic postmodern novel that was then, at Ship Rock: A Place's date of publication (1980) in your hands?  Little did you know that Women and Men's spine, when it rests on its side in the supine position (how could you have ever imagined this?) sits as thick as Ship Rock is high! (no hyper-hyperbole intended), and that after almost thirty years since its original (complete) publication in 1987 -- Women and Men's publication, that is -- during which it has become one of the priciest, scarcest, most sought after gargantuan novel of the postmodern era in U.S. history, commanding sums deep into three digits -- and that for a copy that hasn't even been signed by the author!?  Of course you didn't know this, beloved online bookseller based in Albuquerque, New Mexico; otherwise, you would've had to have been crazy to sell me that signed excerpt, subtitled "From Women and Men: A Novel In Progress by Joseph McElroy" for the humble sum of $9.49 including shipping, right!?


*  Another early excerpt from Women and Men that I've either lucked into over the years or been fated into obtaining, perhaps, is ... a copy of Conjunctions: 6 (1984) ...

It's not nearly as unique as Ship Rock: A Place (but it's still nice to have, if for anything else than examining what McElroy later cut or revised and kept), though it comprises a twenty-eight page chunk from Women and Men opening the issue.  In the prefatory NOTE, "J.M." explains:  "The following sections of Women and Men come from a long chapter entitled "The Hermit-Inventor of New York, the Anasazi Healer, and the Unknown Aborter."  These are unlike any of the chapters of Women and Men elsewhere published in being far from self-contained.  But they are unlike those other sections also in their style, which, in its memorial juxtapositions and sweep of feeling, is even more of the style of the book."

I've not yet acquired the many more chapters of Women and Men "elsewhere published" in journals prior to the book's publication, but I've had fun hunting for them in Very Good+ to Like New condition, scouring indie brick-and-mortars around town.

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