Friday, November 23, 2012

Subway Lives by Jim Dwyer

First edition of Subway Lives published by Crown Publishers in 1991
Journalist Jim Dwyer's Subway Lives is an amazing series of non-fiction vignettes that revolve around the New York City subway system over a 24 hour span. Dwyer's account follows higher-ups in the Transit Authority, especially David Gunn, who is famous (and infamous) for ending the graffiti pandemic on the subway, a pregnant woman who gives birth on the subway, petty thieves, a mentally challenged teen, traffic control rooms, subway police, a conductor with a strange penchant for singing, and a few of New York's most famous graffiti writers at the time, Reas, JA, Soni, and Slick. Interspersed with a bevy of historical information about the subway system and statistical figures, Dwyer's book is a treasure trove of late 1980's/early 1990's New York City. While this book will obviously appeal more to New York natives or people who have lived here, it is still an interesting social study from a particularly transformative time in the history of the city and it's world renowned subway system. Dwyer himself is a New York City native and covered the subway beat for New York Newsday in the late 1980's before reporting for the Daily News and eventually the New York Times. With excellent book design by June Bennett-Tantillo, Subway Lives remains an artifact of a bygone time in New York City.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Library edition of Brave New World from some time in the 1960's
First published in the UK in 1932, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World has since become a modern classic of dystopian literature. While it is a great book, there is hardly anything rare about it—with the exception of this obscure made-for-library edition which I haven't encountered again since acquiring the copy pictured. There is no exact publication date anywhere on the inside of the book, but I was able to track it to sometime in the early 1960's through Harper & Row's publication history. I don't know if a definitive publication date exists anywhere though, at least not according to my research. Aside from having wonderful and simple jacket design wrapping around from cover to cover, this edition is remarkable for having the artwork printed directly onto the hardcover. I'm guessing the logic behind this decision was that the publisher assumed these copies would be handled a lot more and wanted to prevent the dust jacket from eventually deteriorating. If you happen on a copy like this one definitely jump on it—especially if you've never read about Mustapha Mond, Soma, and the Savages before.

Simple back cover stating the Harper Crest library edition