[SANFORD, John.] SHAPIRO, Julian.
The Water Wheel.
First edition, first printing. With the author’s signed presentation inscription to the front free endpaper: “This one for them Abernathys for having helped me in so many ways, sincerely Julian Mar.7.33.” The recipient was Milton Abernathy, the editor of Contempo, a short lived but notable little magazine published in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, from 1931 to 1934, to which Shapiro (as John Sanford) contributed. This was Shapiro’s first novel and the only one to bear his real name. John A. Sanford (1904-2003) was born Julian Lawrence Shapiro, but adopted his pen-name to forestall anti-Semitism, taking the name from his protagonist in The Water Wheel. A friend of Nathanael West whom he followed to Hollywood in a less than stellar attempt to become a screen writer, in 1938 he married the far more successful writer Marguerite Roberts. The couple were victims of the McCarthy witch hunt in the 1950s, and their refusal to testify led to their blacklisting in the film business for two decades. Shapiro may be considered one of the least justly neglected greats of American literature. His work was innovative and uncompromising – typically written without hope of popular acclaim, his books remain notably fresh.
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Octavo. Original green cloth, titles to spine gilt. With the dust jacket. Spine rather dull, traces of damp to lower board, contents somewhat browned but a very good copy in the chipped and frayed dust jacket.