Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman
Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.
Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.
Chris loves books.
Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
His life was out-sized yet this is bit-sized. The diary booklet measures 2 x 3 inches and is oddly formatted. Each double page accommodates 6 days, so there is an intriguing rhythm to the way the weeks break. It reminds one of the way human calendars and celestial movements require that extra day in leap years.
John Lennon - a giant of our times! I could hardly wait to see how he'd spent 1969. I was especially interested to see what small event or observation he would choose for the tiny space allotted each day in the diary.
woke up. went to work. came home. watched telly. went to bed.
Written over and over again. Occasionally fucked wife or went out. July 14: went to Majorca. blank pages until July 26: came back. Sunday July 27: woke up - late watched telly. went to bed.
This can't be right. Is someone pulling my leg?
I wanted it to be real. That it is the only explanation I have for my continuing and unreasonable gullibility.
A bit of scientific skepticism finally kicked in. I checked July 21, the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. No diarist could fail to mention this. According to The Lennon Diaries, John was in Majorca at the time. Even so.
Further checks saw no mention of Colonel Mummer al-Qaddafi driving Libyan King Idris 1 into exile; no mention of the Woodstock Extravaganza in August of that year; no mention of George Harrison releasing his own album; no mention of Lennon, himself, refusing the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award as protest for UK involvement in Vietnam. Were these too inconsequential for limited diary space?
And what about his marriage to Yoko Ono on March 20, 1969: got up. went to work. came home watched telly. went to bed.
Okay. It's not real then. It's a joke. Good one.
As it turns out, it really is a good one. The Lennon Diary 1969 was written by John Lennon in November 1968 as part of a future diaries project. It was published in 1970 and included as one of 14 items in the box that was issue No. 7 - The British Issue - of Aspen. Aspen is "The Multimedia Magazine in a Box".
1969 was quite a year. John Lennon was quite a man. This little book introduces me to Aspen Magazine and Dave Dyment. I'm glad to know of them both.
Aspen, the index page gives a good sense of this remarkably interesting project:
Aspen page of John Lennon's future diary - includes the entire book:
Artists' Books and Multiples - Dave Dyment has a great blog showcasing artist books and other stuff he calls "editioned artworks". He has reproduced the entire The Lennon Diary and given bibliographic information. Apparently Dyment's leg was not pulled.
An audio diary - John Lennon talking about his life - on YouTube
more plausibly real John Lennon's diaries
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
London's parents lived in San Francisco where they plied their trades. William Chaney was an astrologer. Flora Wellman was a spiritualist. She channeled the spirit of Black Hawk. This notable American Indian was born a century before as Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kis-kiak of the Thunder Clan. He aligned himself with other Sauk Indians who were hostile to the settlers and wanted to return to the old ways. Black Hawk became a leader of the Sauk and Fox Indians.
It is unclear just how he presented his spirit through Jack London's mother.
Though from a wealthy family, Flora Wellman did not have an easy childhood herself. She had various troubles. One was an illness that left her physically deformed and perhaps mentally unbalanced.
Flora gave over the care of infant Jack to Virginia Prentiss, an ex-slave. Mrs. Prentiss had just lost her own baby in childbirth. She nursed Jack. They remained strongly connected for life. Through the Prentisses, Flora met John London. He was a widowed veteran of the Civil War with many children of his own - several grown and one recently deceased Eight months after Jack was born, Flora and John London married. Their household included baby Jack and John London's youngest three children. Flora drew on her training as a privileged young girl, and taught piano.
Everyone worked hard. Jack shoveled coal, cut wood, and went to hunt seals in the Pacific. As a teenager, London went to the Yukon to search for gold at Klondike. He suffered a term in jail, pirated oysters, and rode trains. In his spare time, he read.
The letters that Jack London wrote home convinced his mother he should be a writer.
He became one. His colorful descriptions of the sea and the frozen north fascinated readers all over the world. He wrote novels, short stories, essays, magazine articles and newspaper columns. He was enormously popular in his (short) lifetime. He used his influence to promote socialism and to speak about justice and beauty.
NOTE: Moon-face is not his most famous novel, but the above pictured first edition recently found its way into riverrun. It has that letter, featured in the earlier post, tucked in.
This Jack London World is a trove of information, photographs, writing and anecdotes. The list of links to additional sources is a trove within a trove
Project Gutenberg's free online Call of the Wild
It's fascinating to see these many images for Call of the Wild from google images. Most of them are book covers but there are also cartoons and movie stills and sculpture.
the call of the wild
Black Hawk biography
google images of the Klondike Gold Rush
a few quotes from the letter:
"But I am learning, slowly. The great difficulty is to get the proper co-ordination of the various parts so essential to good photography..."
"Of course I like beautiful things..."
"...the aesthetic should simply be ...one of the many things for the raising of the human."
That last paragraph pulls at the heart. So many great things to do - such limited time. Jack London died in 1916 at the age of 40. Look at that handwritten last line.
"Only a little while and I am not."