Some books are bought, others are borrowed, and still others are thrust upon us. When my neighbor was pregnant with her second child, she knocked on my door and handed me her copy of Katherine Dunn's Geek Love. "Take this," she said. "It's horrible. I can't have this in my house."
Five years later, I wonder if she wants it back?
It wasn't banned from her house because it was bad, but because of the plot, the characters, and the outrageous horror of it.
Circus freaks aside, Geek Love is notable for the Chip Kidd book design. Good work, Mr. Kidd. But the ultimate copy of Geek Love is Katherine Dunn's own copy of the first trade sheets in a limited edition binding and slipcase by artist Mare Blocker. Twenty-six lettered copies and six numbered copies were produced by the M. Kimberly Press and Charles Seluzicki Rare Books in 1989.
Ms. Dunn's copy is on exhibition through May 29th at the Aubrey R. Watzek Library at Lewis and Clark College here in Portland.
Ms. Dunn and artist Mare Blocker worked together on the 1991 M. Kimberly Press edition of Official Route Book, Mystery Girls' Circus and College of Conundrum, which is also part of the Watzek Library exhibition. An image from that book graces the limited edition catalogue Exploring Katherine Dunn in Print.
We have only one example of Mare Blocker's work from the M. Kimberly Press. Dance of Death is a charming waltz with the Reaper, depicted in linoleum block prints. Though they are not titled, I think of this one as "Bowling with Death":
Interested in fine press or artist's books? Our downtown store has a few in the Rare Book Room. Our Seattle neighbors Wessel and Lieberman have many more of Blocker's M. Kimberly Press titles available.
Think that book dealers survive on books alone? Grab a napkin, a knife, and your favorite spicy mustard, and follow this link to the food geek's world of Saucyman.
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Kirsten Berg has worked as a used book buyer for Powell's for more than 10 years. She is experienced with technical and general reading material, and enjoys working with out-of-print and rare material the most.
Books mentioned in this post