Thursday, April 24, 2014
What's New in the New West
Home » Rockies » Oregon » Bend » McCarthy’s Typewriter Sells for Big Bucks and Oregon Children’s Author Sparks Controversy
If you've been very good, Santa might bring you Cormac McCarthy's old Olivetti typewriter for Christmas. But you better have been exceptionally good, because the typewriter recently sold at auction for $254,500, more than ten times the price Christie's anticipated it would fetch. (Via Twitter.com/SarahW) Randy Kennedy of the New York Times wrote: "A heavily weathered, light blue, Lettera 32 Olivetti manual machine that Mr. McCarthy said he bought in 1963 for $50 and used to type all his novels, including a couple that won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, sold Friday at Christie’s to an unidentified American collector for $254,500, more than 10 times its high estimate of $20,000. (The price includes Christie’s commission.) The proceeds will be donated to the Santa Fe Institute, a nonprofit interdisciplinary scientific research organization."

McCarthy’s Typewriter Sells for Big Bucks and Oregon Children’s Author Sparks Controversy

If you’ve been very good, Santa might bring you Cormac McCarthy’s old Olivetti typewriter for Christmas. But you better have been exceptionally good, because the typewriter recently sold at auction for $254,500, more than ten times the price Christie’s anticipated it would fetch. (Via Twitter.com/SarahW) Randy Kennedy of the New York Times wrote:

“A heavily weathered, light blue, Lettera 32 Olivetti manual machine that Mr. McCarthy said he bought in 1963 for $50 and used to type all his novels, including a couple that won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, sold Friday at Christie’s to an unidentified American collector for $254,500, more than 10 times its high estimate of $20,000. (The price includes Christie’s commission.) The proceeds will be donated to the Santa Fe Institute, a nonprofit interdisciplinary scientific research organization.”

• Thanks to all of you who left comments on my annual Best of the West Books lists that ran last week. I completely forgot that this year also marks the end of a decade, so that we’re required to make our best of the decade book lists, too. I’m going to leave that up to you all—what were your favorite Western books of the decade?

Here are some candidates: I was thinking for me Kent Haruf’s Plainsong was an easy choice, but it actually came out in 1999. Cormac McCarthy finished his Border Trilogy in the ’90s, but he hasn’t done so shabbily this decade, producing No Country for Old Men in 2005 and The Road in 2006. Annie Proulx’s first volume of Wyoming stories also came out in 1999 (the nineties were a fruitful time for Western fiction), but her next two, also excellent collections came out this decade, Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2 and Fine Just the Way it Is: Wyoming Stories 3.

• I somehow missed Annie Proulx’s interview with Christopher Cox of the Paris Review that ran earlier this year. (Via Twitter.com/ParisReview) One of the many interesting insights in the interview is why Proulx changed her name from E. Annie Proulx to plain old Annie:

“When I first started writing stories and trying to place them in the outdoor magazines, they insisted that it be E. A. Proulx so the guys who read these magazines wouldn’t think it was a woman writing them. Sexist editors. The ones who suggested it were from a small Vermont publication, and I got back this awful letter, full of bad spelling and clumsy syntax, suggesting that I should change my name to initials. Very tiresome. I went along with it, and then it became E. Annie, and then finally I got sick of writing E so it just got dropped.”

She also said, when asked if she has a favorite story that she’s written, “I don’t have a favorite, but I think ‘Tits-Up in a Ditch’ is probably my strongest story.” I agree. She knocked it out of the park with that tale of an unloved, unlucky single mother from Wyoming who enlists to support her son. Proulx also wishes she had never written “Brokeback Mountain.”

• Cheyenne-based novelist C.J. Box turned in a fun top 10 list for the Guardian U.K., “CJ Box’s top 10 US crime novelists who ‘own’ their territory.” Box writes:

“The dirty little secret about the very best contemporary crime novels is that it often doesn’t matter much who did it and why, but where the story is set. Solving the crime is simply a vehicle to travel through the territory. Reading the best crime novels about specific locations by authors who live there and own their home turf is like visiting with the ultimate know-it-all guide who moonlights as a voyeur…I write thrillers set in the Rocky Mountains because I want to shine a clear-eyed light on the region, its issues and people. That light can alternate between loving and harsh, but it must provide clarity.”

His list of crime novelists who have specialized in one location include James Crumley in Montana, Tony Hillerman in New Mexico, and one of my absolute favorite non-Western writers, Richard Price, who creates rich urban dramas set in New Jersey and New York.

• I was checking out the blog of New West book reviewer Traci J. Macnamara, and she recently discussed the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature from U.K.’s Kendal Mountain Film (and Literature) Festival, won by Steve House’s Beyond the Mountain. Traci wrote:

” Two weeks earlier, at Canada’s Banff film festival, Jerry Moffatt’s Revelations won the grand prize, and House received the ‘Best Book’ award in the Mountain Literature category. Not bad for House, a guy who doesn’t really consider himself to be a writer. I always like to see what books have been entered in the Banff competition, in particular, because its short list identifies some of the year’s best books in categories ranging from mountain literature, to adventure travel, to photography, to mountaineering history. This year, 101 books from 16 different countries were entered in the Banff competition.”

Here are the Banff books finalists and entries.

• Finally, David Michael Slater, a public schoolteacher and children’s and young adult book author from Hillsdale, Oregon has stirred up some controversy with his latest book for teens, The Book of Nonsense, the first in his five-part Sacred Books series. According to Christina Lent of the Beaverton Valley Times, “two Christian high schools have already asked the prolific Hillsdale author to refrain from talking about the series during his guest appearances with students.” Slater told Lent he didn’t want to give away the secrets of the plot, but said, “I can say this book is a recasting of original, religious stories that is fully intended to be a piece of fiction. It doesn’t claim to be, pretend to be or want to be nonfiction.”

After Lent’s article, Margie Boulé picked up the story, writing about the book’s controversy among some local Christians in a column for The Oregonian. That column sparked a lot of discussion and name calling, and Slater responded with a statement. He wrote, in part:

“I certainly never dreamed of getting my books noticed because people want to burn them… But now, after publishing nearly 20 small press books (picture books, teen and adult novels) in the last nine years—not one of which garnered any attention remotely close to this—what I can say? I’m thrilled. I’m handing out cans of lighter fluid and asking only that folks buy them before they burn them…in the span of two weeks they’ve gone from Beaverton to Boulé, and now requests have come in for copies from The Jim Lehrer Show, The Progressive, Publishers Weekly, and the AP. Soon the chains might even notice them (gasp!). Taking umbrage at this point would be disingenuous. So, I’m not taking it. ‘Tis the season anyway to remember that it’s better to give than to receive.”

So there you have it. Give an author a nice holiday present and buy a bunch of his books to burn.

Please follow me on Twitter and {encode=”jenny@newwest.net” title=”email me”} with any regional books news or events.

About Jenny Shank