Crucifix in a Deathhand. New Poems 1963-65.
A Loujon Press Award Book.New York: Lyle Stuart Inc, 1965 Stock Code: 139612
NotesFirst and limited edition of 3,100 copies, this a superb presentation copy from Bukowski, inscribed exuberantly in red and silver paint pen on the page facing the colophon, "For Jerry Cushman, Poems sure, Poems why not, Charles Bukowski, 5-3-65", accompanied by a drawing of a caged flower and a bottle; additionally signed by Bukowski on the half-title in blue ballpoint with a drawing of a horse and jockey (Bukowski spent a good deal of time at the track). This is a fine provenance: Jerome "Jerry" Cushman (1914-2020) was director of the New Orleans Public Library system between 1946 and 1965, when he left to become a senior lecturer in the Department of English at UCLA, specializing in children's literature. His collection of illustrated children's books in held at Chapman University, Orange, California; his letters to Jon Webb are at the Lilly Library, Indiana. He was described in his Los Angeles Times obituary as "a true original" (retrieved 2 June 2020).
Together with two autograph letters signed from Jon Webb to Cushman (each 2 pages, on Loujon Press stationery). The first, dated 18 May 1965, gives a fascinating insight into the book's production; it reads "Dear Jerry Here's the new book finally. One of first few bound. Buk signed it to you see back. Price was to be 6.00 till Lyle Stuart, who backed us, saw the book - & at once made it 7.50. We'd held out printing the wraparound band till last. Means no more to us, for we've been paid - & as usual went overboard. No fault of Stuart's we lost sense of budget. He gave us so much & we could have made a couple thousand but somehow new touches here & there consumed the profit for us. But we're not displeased for we're thankful we had the chance to throw budget out the window for such pleasure in return doing this book as we did it. Best, Jon. PS Would you send a copy for us to the Library Journal, if we have Stuart send you one. He wants all newer copies to come from his office". The second, dated 23-24 March 1969, is a warm and chatty letter discussing Webb's magazine The Outsider ("a real pleasure to hear you like O. 4/5"), his conversation with fellow librarian Bernie Richardson of Northern Arizona University and how Cushman had been replaced as librarian at New Orleans "with someone who was up the city father's alley", Webb's own health ("I had a stroke last week but won't keep me from working the press" and other matters concerning the press. Together with a double-sided purchase form for Crucifix and The Outsider numbers Four and Five; and a photocopy of a newspaper article headed "Downpour Swamps Webb Printery" (from the Tucson Daily Citizen, 12 August 1968).
This is perhaps Bukowski's most dazzlingly produced book, reflecting the care and attention lavished on his work by Jon and "Gypsy Lou" Webb. Howard Sounes, in his acclaimed life of the writer, remarks that it was "the biggest book of Bukowski's career to date, and the Webbs did another beautiful design job. Printed in large format, and illustrated with nightmarish etchings by Noel Rockmore, it looked like an album of Gothic fairy tales" (Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life, 1999, p. 72).
Quarto. Original pictorial fold-around wrappers with printed obi, pages handset in various types on Linweave Spectra paper in shades of ivory, white, peacock, gobelin, bayberry, bittersweet and saffron.
4 etched plates by Noel Rockmore.
A fine copy.
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