Philadelphia & New York: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1963. First Edition. Pynchon's first book, a cryptic, intricately-woven postmodern novel against which so many others have been measured. The story involves two non-sequential plots which eventually converge - one involving the geopolitical Great Game of the late 1800's, the other centered around protagonist Benny Profane, his Navy buddies, and a gang of New York pseudo-hipsters called the Whole Sick Crew. An imaginative work far-reaching in its complexity - a finalist for the National Book Award, and winner of the William Faulkner Foundation Award for Notable First Novel.
An association copy of the highest caliber, inscribed to the parents of Pynchon's close friend and college roommate Richard Fariña (1937-1966). The two met while attending Cornell University in 1958, and got to know each other on campus and through the Cornell Writer, the school's literary magazine, for which Pynchon was junior editor. In a piece written for Pomona College, Pynchon recalls first reading Fariña's poems and story submissions: "It was a radically different voice, one that seemed to come from the world outside, surer, less safe, of higher quality than the usual run of submissions." A few years after leaving Cornell, Pynchon was involved with reading and discussing the manuscript and early drafts of Fariña's autobiographical debut novel, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me ("I remember giving him a lot of free advice, though I've forgotten what it was exactly"); he was Fariña's best man at his Carmel, California wedding ceremony to folksinger Mimi Baez, and would go on to dedicate his 1973 novel Gravity's Rainbow to him. "We talked on the phone the day before he died. His book had just come out. We arranged to connect in L.A. in a few weeks. The next evening I heard the news over an AM rock 'n' roll radio station. He'd been riding on the back of a motorcycle on Carmel Valley Road, where a prudent speed would have been thirty-five. Police estimated that they must have been doing ninety, and failed to make a curve." Fariña was thrown off and killed, tragically ending a promising literary and music career.
Pynchon remains among the 20th century's most enigmatic literary figures; since the publication of V., he has shunned publicity, guards his privacy intensely, and has refused to be photographed. The few books inscribed by him that have surfaced have been typically brief, inscribed for the occasional charity case, friends he worked with at Boeing, or most recently, for fine press publisher Herb Yellin. This copy entered the trade directly from the Fariña family, held in a private collection for the last 20 years. In the absence of a copy inscribed to Farina himself (and I know not whether such a copy exists), perhaps the best of all possible copies. Mead A1a. Item #4679
First Printing. Octavo (21.75cm); lavender cloth, with titles stamped in silver on spine, and typographic elements embossed to front cover; navy blue topstain; dustjacket; ,10-492,pp. Inscribed by the author to Richard Fariña Sr. and his wife Lillian opposite the title page: "For Richard + Lillian / with affection / Thomas Pynchon." Spine and board edges gently sunned, textblock slightly loose, with minute board exposure to lower corners; Very Good+. Dustjacket is unclipped (priced $5.95), with printed price crossed-out and re-priced in ink directly above; light shelfwear, with gentle sunning to spine; Very Good+. Housed in a bespoke clamshell case.