Friday 2 July 2010

New Arrival: A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane

Got a few of these new arrivals to get through today, so bear with me. I know these aren't the most scintillating of posts, and they generally don't hold much interest for anyone other than, well, me, but I like doing 'em, and hey, you don't have to read 'em if you don't want. It's a free internet. Well, this bit of it's free anyway. This bit? Not so much. So, I mentioned I had something else on the way from Dennis Lehane in the previous post, and 'twas this:

A UK first edition hardback of Lehane's debut novel, A Drink Before the War, published by Severn House in 2000. This wasn't the first time the book had been published in the UK – originally published in the US in 1994, it was published in paperback in the UK in 1995 by Bantam – but this is the first UK hardcover edition, and as we all know (er, we do all know this, don't we?), it's the hardcovers wot count. There aren't many copies of this edition online; I was lucky and got this for £2.99 on eBay, but generally you're looking at upward of £30.

This copy is ex-library, as are the few listed online, but it's in very good condition; the front endpaper's been torn out, and there's a small stamp on it, but that's about it. Still, that ripped-out endpaper is a bit unnecessary, and hastily done by the looks of it. What exactly is it with librarians and their gleeful mutilation of books? You'd think they'd maybe take a bit of care to remove the withdrawal sheet when they sell books, being, presumably, as they really should be, book enthusiasts. But oh no – they just rip the fuckin' endpaper out. Bunch of arses. The library in question here is Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council Library Service, who should hang their heads in shame. Funnily enough I used to go out with someone from Redcar, which is on the north-east coast of England. If you ever read this, Sally, do me a favour: next time you're up there, pop down the library and give someone a thick ear. Ta.

I've got no idea who the dustjacket illustrator is; they're not credited on the flaps or inside the book. But the book itself is the first of Lehane's series starring private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. I was surprised to note that it's written in the first-person too; the other Lehane books I own are all third-person. I've got a weird aversion to first-person novels; I do read them and often enjoy them, but I much prefer the omniscient third-person narrator. Many people find that approach rather false, but I find first-person as false, if not more so; who, exactly, is this singular narrator relating his/her tale to? Anyway, it's a thing. And there it is.

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