Read Me: A Century of Classic American Book Advertisements

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Harper Collins, Nov 3, 2009 - Art - 288 pages
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This witty and heavily illustrated volume features more than 300 vintage book advertisements—startling and strange, beautiful and funny—that together reveal a kind of secret history of American literature over the last century.

New York Times book critic Dwight Garner brings together original ads for some of the most acclaimed and best-selling books of the twentieth century, including The Great Gatsby, Ulysses, On the Road, Invisible Man, Lolita, Silent Spring, The Joy of Sex, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, White Noise, and dozens of other classics. These ads show us famous books when they were simply new volumes jostling for attention on bookstore shelves, not yet icons of our literary culture. And the ads capture many beloved authors—Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, Susan Sontag, and Kurt Vonnegut among a great many others—at moments before their careers were assured, before their personas had hardened into those of "famous writers."

In his introduction, Garner explains the changing styles of book advertising; explores the cross-pollination between literature and the world of advertising, in which many writers—including Don DeLillo, Salman Rushdie, and James Patterson—worked before publishing their first books; and makes a convincing case that these vintage ads are important and lasting literary documents.

Read Me is a fascinating and unusual romp through literary history, and an ideal gift for any reader.

 

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About the author (2009)

Dwight Garner is a book critic for the New York Times. A former senior editor of the New York Times Book Review, he was the founding books editor of Salon.com. His writing has appeared in Harper's Magazine, The Oxford American, The Nation, Slate, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere, and he is at work on a biography of James Agee. Garner lives in Garrison, New York, with his wife and two children.

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