Curios: Two Ace Editions of Novels by Shirley Jackson

This Curios post is prompted by the confluent arrival of two books related to two things I am fond of: pulp pocket editions and Shirley Jackson.

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These are Ace pocket editions of Shirley Jackson’s Hangsaman and The Sundial. You probably know Ace, whether you know you do or not, and you probably know Shirley Jackson, whether you know you do or not. And if you don’t, I’m here to tell you you should.

Ace is a long-running publisher of sci-fi, fantasy, and dozens of other genres; one of many publishers, like Dell and Avon, of those cheap, thin paperbacks you’ve passed over in thrift stores and that most used bookstores (including us) have a box or two of somewhere.  But Ace also published books that were just too racy or out-there for their times. They were the first to publish William Gibson’s Neuromancer, for example, and William S. Burroughs’s first publication, Junkie, was an Ace Double, a format that packaged two novels in one so that each side of the wraps was the cover of one of the novels. Their reputation was for publishing books that were considered trash, but in doing so they managed to rack up a remarkable list of quality authors and novels that more reputable publishers just wouldn’t touch (but they also published a lot of trash).

One of their other genre specialties was gothic or horror novels. And that’s why you may know Shirley Jackson, as well as why Ace published her. At some point in high school or college you probably had to read her short story, “The Lottery,” about a small town that performs a horrifying ritual sacrifice each year. If you didn’t have to read it in high school, here’s an MP3 of actress Maureen Stapleton reading the story. Many of her novels and stories have a grisly or gruesome plot point, like collective, ritual murder, though she manages them with a remarkable subtlety that is all the more disturbing for being so. You may also have seen one of my favorite movies, The Haunting, based on her novel, The Haunting of Hill House. The 1963 film was directed by Robert Wise, who also directed The Sound of Music and West Side Story, among other things. (Run with all speed from the terrible remake from the late 90s, also called The Haunting.)

We have some of Jackson’s other works on the shelves at Bibliohead, so even if you couldn’t care less about vintage pulp editions, you should stop by and give Mrs. Jackson a shot. Let Jonathan Lethem convince you, if I haven’t.

(Thanks for the page on the Ace Double version of Junkie goes to RealityStudio.org, an unbelievably useful, helpful, and friendly resource for all sating all your William S. Burroughs cravings.)


Curios is a periodic series about an interesting used book; rare or common, expensive or cheap, we hope it’s a book you didn’t know you were looking for.

Curio: What are the Seven Wonders of the World?

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What are the Seven Wonders of the World? by Peter D’Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish

This neat volume is a slip-cased edition by the Folio Society of a popular trivia book. This particular edition is beautifully produced, as you can see from the pictures, with an attractive hardcover binding, gilt lettering on the spine, and the addition of intriguing black-and-white illustrations by Richard Beards throughout the text (the one in the picture below is an illustration for the question “What were the 4 chief winds of Greece?”). Each section features several questions related to a single number, such as:

• Who were the 3 sons of Noah?
• What are the 4 voyages of Lemuel Gulliver?
• What are the 5 pillars of Islam?
• What are the 6 flavors of quarks?
• Where do the English names of the 7 days of the week come from?

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And so it goes, on to 12.


Curios is a periodic series about an interesting used book; rare or common, expensive or cheap, we hope it’s a book you didn’t know you were looking for.

Curio: The Arts at Black Mountain College

The Arts at Black Mountain College, by Mary Emma Harris

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Black Mountain College is legendary, and with good reason. The roster of teachers and students is a veritable checklist of The Major Names in mid-20th Century American Art. And if you were looking for that roster, you’d find it in this book, starting on page 263: a complete list of everyone who taught or attended at Black Mountain. A history of the college and it’s ideals, the book is chock full of illustrations—candid photographs of authors and artists, paintings, behind-the-scenes snapshots—and even includes an unbelievable bibliography of books published about the college, by the college, and by its faculty and students (even including books not associated with the college).


Curios is a periodic series about an interesting used book; rare or common, expensive or cheap, we hope it’s a book you didn’t know you were looking for.

Searching for Bobu Diran; or, Bob Dylan’s 115th Japanese Nightmare

Words by Bob Dylan/ボブ・ディラン全詩集We all know this: the internet is an enlightening, informative resource. Except when it infuriatingly isn’t, of course. A good number of collectible, obscure, or just plain peculiar books come across our counter at Bibliohead, and while we use this wide web to sell some of our books online, we also use it to find out more about them (especially those peculiar ones): How rare is this book? What about this particular edition of it? Are some editions worth more than others? Has anybody else even seen a copy of this self-published comic that is so bizarrely hilarious and almost nonexistent online that you almost want to keep it all for yourself and not bother figuring out what it’s worth?

Some esoteric aberrations are the sole foundation for identifying the collectability of a book; typos, for example, are frequently the means by which a true first edition, first printing is differentiated from later printings that appear to be firsts in all other respects — and as you can imagine, the internet is a great place for finding out that if the 9th line of page 47 begins “the bnad” instead of “the band,” then you have something exceedingly rare in your hands.

But sometimes you can barely find a stitch of information about a book, and Google becomes a nightmarish maze of half information, incomplete clues, endless circles and dead ends. Take this book, for example: a bilingual, two-volume collection of the lyrics from Bob Dylan’s first ten albums, containing the English lyrics in one volume and Japanese translations of them in the other.

Words by Bob Dylan/ボブ・ディラン全詩集

It’s on WorldCat.org. And that’s about it, in English at least. But you follow a breadcrumb here to a Japanese fan page there, and you surmise that a certain set of kanji must be the title, so you work with that for a while (even though you don’t know any Japanese and you’re not even sure it’s right to call those kanji), then you chucklingly puzzle your way through Google Translate versions of a dozen or so pages, where you discover that apparently the kanji for “Bob Dylan” is transliterated back to English as “Bobu Diran”… And eventually you get an idea of how rare the book is.

However difficult it is to track down, though, it’s a neat book, so we thought you might like some pictures.

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The free endpapers of each volume look like typewritten pages of the English lyrics, and each volume has its own design elements. The Japanese volume has Dylan’s line drawings scattered throughout. The English volume has contrasting page designs with tracklists between each set of lyrics, and some sections also include writings not from the album itself, such as early versions of songs or other—I assume contemporaneous—poems.

If it does nothing else, it ought to make you unbearably curious how someone translated “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”


Curios is a periodic series about an interesting used book; rare or common, expensive or cheap, we hope it’s a book you didn’t know you were looking for.

First Editions of William S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs First Editions

As previewed last week, this is our selection of Burroughs first editions. All of these are the first appearances of the book in that form, though not necessarily of the content. Some of these books are recollected in other publications, and some are collections of earlier collections—for example, White Subway, a collection of magazine pieces, is re-collected in The Burroughs File, but we have first editions of both.

The Burroughs File, Naked Lunch, Early Routines, Roosevelt after Inauguration, White Subway (First Editions)

This initial picture shows some of the rarer firsts we have. In the middle is the first printing of the first edition of Naked Lunch, in the original, first-printing dustjacket This copy is in excellent condition, with very little bumping to the spine edges and only slight chipping on the dustjacket. It’s flanked by, on the left, a rare first edition of The Burroughs File, and on the right, by a true first, numbered edition of Early Routines (this one is from the unsigned, numbered printing).

At the bottom of this image are first editions of two collections of magazine pieces, Roosevelt after Inauguration and White Subway.

The Wild Boys, Nova Express, The Soft Machine, Port of Saints, and Tornado Alley (First Editions)

Here we have firsts of The Wild Boys and Port of Saints, with a first of Tornado Alley on the right (as issued without dustjacket). At bottom are firsts of Nova Express and The Soft Machine.

The Wild Boys (Pulp), The Ticket that Exploded, and Kentucky Ham (First Editions)

This trio has my favorite cover art of all the first editions (hey, I had to come up with some selection criteria…). This is the first US paperback edition of The Wild Boys, followed by the first editions of The Ticket that Exploded and Kentucky Ham.

Interzone (US and UK), Cities of the Red Night, My Education, and Queer (First Editions)

Top and center here is Cities of the Red Night, flanked by the first UK (on the left) and first US (on the right) editions of Interzone. Finishing this set off are firsts of My Education, Burroughs’s dream journal, and Queer.

The Adding Machine and The Last Words of Dutch Schultz (First Editions) And last, here are first editions of The Adding Machine and The Last Words of Dutch Schultz.


We have many, many more Burroughs books in our collection. If you’re looking for something and you don’t see it listed in one of our posts, please email us and we can send you a complete catalog of the Burroughs items we have for sale.

Burroughing In Foreign Tongues

William S. Burroughs | Five Translations

Before I get to the first editions I teased you with in the last post (Soon, very soon! Honest!), I wanted to write a post about our selection of Burroughs books in languages other than English. It’s a small but interesting collection.

At left, you’ll find several of Burroughs original writings in translation. The first two, at top, are the Swedish and and the Norwegian translations of Naked Lunch, Den Nakna Lunchen and Naken Lunsj, respectively.

In the middle are two German translations, Die Vier Apokalyptischen Reiter (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse) and Die Elektronische Revolution (The Electronic Revolution). Interestingly, these two are actually “backed with” the English version. If you flipped them over vertically you would find the original English texts printed on the other side, like records or old pulp twofer books.

At bottom is L’ombre d’une chance, a French translation of Ghost of Chance.

While the German/English double-bill volumes are neat, my favorite of our non-English books is the next one, if for no other reason than I had to do a little more research to find out exactly what it is*. It’s called Apomorphine, published by what looks to be a very interesting small press from mid-century Paris called L’Herne, and contains French translations of several pieces first published in US little magazines. There is no English equivalent of this book, so Google and my very poor French had to duke it out, but I gathered, eventually, that it includes translations of “Apomorphine.” “The Day the Records Went Up,” “Coldspring News,” “The Conspiracy,” “Exterminator!,” “Parenthetically 7 Hertz,” and “Chappaqua, a Film by Conrad Rooks.”

Apomorphine | William S. BurroughsApomorphine (Int.) | William S. Burroughs

Interestingly, the text of this book is printed in three, newspaper-style columns on each page, as you can see from the image on the right.

French Criticism about William S. Burroughs

Our last two books are critical evaluations of Burroughs, both in French. The first, simply titled Burroughs, is by Gerard-Georges Lemaire. The second is William S. Burroughs: La vie et l’oeuvre, by Phillipe Mikriamos.

*Incidentally, searching around for information on Apomorphine led me to a fascinating post by Jed Birmingham at RealityStudio.org, a site for Burroughs collectors. Found here, it discusses (with impressive thoroughness and dedication) the interrelations between Burroughs’s drug use, writing activity, and desire to get clean and respectably published.

The Many Forms of Burroughs

Explorer of the other senses that he was, we’ll start the list of our Burroughsiana collection with Burroughs in some of his many other forms. You know Naked Lunch, you know The Wild Boys and Junkie, and we have all kinds of first editions or rare versions or pulp paperbacks that we’ll get to soon. The Seven Deadly Sins | William S. BurroughsBut do you know Burroughs’s more colorful side? Or what he sounds like? Or how trippy his experimental films are? Or that he made films and records with a variety of collaborators?

How about that Burroughs used a shotgun to make art? This rare book, The Seven Deadly Sins, collects images and text made by Burroughs in the early ’90s. The foundation of most of the images are blocks of wood that Burroughs blasted with his signature 12-guage, then painted and silk-screened.

Another interesting item we have is You’re the Guy I Want to Share My Money With, a gate-fold double LP Burroughs made You're the guy I Want to Share My Money With, The Final Academy Documents, Call Me Burroughsin collaboration with John Giorno and Laurie Anderson, with images by Jimmy De Sana and published by Giorno Poetry Systems (two names that you’ll see again in our future lists). Each of the first three sides has works by one of the collaborators, but this is the coolest part: the fourth side is multi-grooved, with three tracks running simultaneously. Which one plays depends upon which one the needle catches when you place it. (The LP version also features tracks not included in later CD reissues.)

Also pictured here: The Final Academy Documents, a collection of Burroughs’s experimental films plus some footage from a reading with John Giorno playing accompaniment at Factory Recrod’s Hacienda Club in Manchester; and Call Me Burroughs, a straight-up, no-frills collection of Burroughs reading from some of his most well-known works.Paper Cloud/Thick Pages: Paintings by Burroughs

The Seven Deadly Sins
Paper Cloud/Thick Pages: Paintings by WSB

Call Me Burroughs (Audio Cassette Tape)
You’re the Guy I Want to Share My Money With (Collaboration between Burroughs, Laurie Anderson, and John Giorno) (Double LP Record)

William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers, by Klaus Maeck (VHS Tape)
Burroughs: The Movie; dir. By Howard Brookner (VHS Tape)
Destroy All Rational Thought (VHS Tape)
Thee Films: 1950s-1960s (VHS Tape)
The Final Academy Documents, Tape 1: 1962/3, Tape 2: 1982 (VHS Tape)

Burroughs (dir. by Brookner), Commissioner of Sewers, Thee Films: 1950s-1960s,  Destroy All Rational Thought,

Burroughs Burroughs Burroughs!

And I don’t mean he digs holes. I mean we have lots of him.

Bibliohead recently acquired a large collection of William S. Burroughs material (Burroughsiana?) from someone who was, to put it mildly, obsessed (a Bourroughphile?). Over the next few weeks, we’ll be cataloging that collection and posting occasional blurbs about obscure, rare, or just plain neat items from it. This collection has everything from first editions to critical surveys to video tapes to early magazine appearances to translations, from a collected letters to Allen Ginsberg to video from the archives of Genesis P-Orridge’s Psychic Television. If you’re looking for something Burroughs-related, we’re a great place to start your search.

To whet your appetite, here’s a preview of our Case of All Things Burroughs:

And don’t be scared off by scarcity. There are things in this case for every price range, from first-timers to true junkies.

Have questions about something you see? Looking for something you don’t? Feel free to contact us for more info (all of our contact info can be found at the bottom of this page), or just click the “Ask Me!” link at the top of this page!

Check out a few of the signed books we have to offer:

Thom Gunn – Jack Straw’s Castle

Margaret Atwood – Strange Things

Chuck Pahlaniuk – Pygmy

David Mitchell – Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Vikram Seth – A Suitable Boy

David Sedaris – When You Are Engulfed In Flames

Irvine Welsh – Trainspotting

Norman Mailer – The Gospel According to the Son