Well, That was Unexpected

About 20 years ago I decided to collect 1st editions and hardbound versions of the books that have been memorable or important to me. That was how I learned a cool bibliophilic thing: most of us like things from our own time, and they’re not rare or antique books yet.

For example, there’s a signed 1st edition of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth on Ebay, right now, for $50. This is how a bibliophile builds up a collection of cool stuff (and then they die and their collection winds up on ebay, or whatever) Anyhow, I have been slowly populating my Special Bookcase with the books that shaped me and remind me what matters. I’ve been lucky that I’m able to do it, so I do.

A few weeks ago I decided to learn more about Donald Hollowell, [stderr] and so I sought out a hardback copy of his wife’s book about him. I wanted a hardback copy so that it could go on the Special Bookcase, so off to Ebay I went. It arrived today:

But what is this sticker on the front? “Signed”? By Louise Hollowell, I’d assume.


It reads:

To Donald –

Continue to work for your civil and human rights. I did what I could, and still work for them for others.


Donald L. Hollowell

Yes, sir.

Hollowell could write “I did what I could” and not doubt that it’s the truth. I sure as hell can’t say that. I’ve done a fair bit of “trying to not make things worse” but it’s a far cry from all that I could. Like a ghost from the past just handed me a huge load of gentle reproof, and a reminder of what a great load of shit we’re allowing to fester in Washington – I need to think more about what I can do.


  1. says

    And my slightly battered (soft cover) copy of The Phantom Tollbooth is 40something years old. Came across a first edition hardcover some years back at a thriftstore for 50 cents.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    I should check whether my copy of The Phantom Tollbooth is a first edition or not! Probably not. Gotta love those Feiffer illustrations, though.

    I first read a paperback copy as a kid travelling in England, then came back to the US and got a hardback copy somehow. I remember being struck by how I’d first read of Milo going up in the lift to his flat, but suddenly he was going up in an elevator to his apartment. It made an impression on me for some reason.