Literary Journal Monday – Gatsby Love

March 25, 2014 at 12:00 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

All About Additional Literary Journal Adventures at Good Books in the Woods

I got to peek at some incoming journals today, they were hanging out on the owner’s desk…


P1010434The American Mercury

The American Mercury was an American magazine published from 1924[1] to 1981. It was founded as the brainchild of H. L. Mencken and drama critic George Jean Nathan. The magazine featured writing by some of the most important writers in the United States through the 1920s and 1930s. After a change in ownership in the 1940s, the magazine attracted conservative writers. The magazine went out of print in 1981, having spent the last 25 years of its existence in decline and controversy. – from Wikipedia

So that’s cool, but the real juice is this, here in the June 1924 edition…


For those who don’t know, “Absolution” is important to fans of The Great Gatsby.  Why?  Well, you see, the writing of The Great Gatsby has a rich history.  It may have been published by Scribner in 1925, but Fitzgerald had several previous versions of the literary classic.

In 1923, he had written 18k words for the book that was destined to become The Great Gatsby but scrapped most of what he had written and began again.  These scraps can be found peppered throughout literature under different headings and titles – titles like “Absolution.”

“I’m glad you liked Absolution.  As you know it was to have been the prologue of the novel but it interfered with the neatness of the plan,” Fitzgerald wrote his editor.  The novel in question was none other than The Great Gatsby.


The above letter is a page from Dear Scott/ Dear Max: The Fitzgerald – Perkins Correspondence.

So many neat things can be found inside the pages of literary journals and I’m enjoying discovering the treasures.

Somewhat unrelated, but definitely something for the Fitzgerald collector that I found while researching this post, are some wonderful embellished journals.  The creators have taken the first handwritten page of The Great Gatsby and imprinted it on the cover of leatherbound journals.  So beautiful:

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Literary Journal Monday – The Black Cat

March 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

P1010396It may have been a whole week since my last post, but the discovery I made today has made the whole week of dry reading worth it.  In fact, what I discovered today at Good Books in the Woods made this entire series of Literary Journal Mondays worth it.

Today I found The Black Cat.

Tucked away, just two hardbound volumes (collections of the actual magazine), hidden in the Literary Journal room.

It was a beautiful, thrilling moment, opening the jacket to a random page and finding this:


“The Black Cat” is a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, originally published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1843 – it was a horror piece about a murderer similar to The Tell-Tale Heart.  It’s no wonder that in 1895, a literary journal called The Black Cat was born, dedicating itself to short stories of an “unusual nature.”  Of course, I don’t know for sure that the founders of The Black Cat were referencing Poe, but I can’t help but jump to that conclusion.  It’s something I would do.

The original mThe Black Cat coveragazine covers varied from month to month, like most magazine covers do, but they all have a spunky contemporary Gothic look that I imagine was hard for people to pass up.  The publication ran until 1922 and featured some surprising contributors.  Rupert Hughes, Susan Glaspell, Ellis Parker Butler, Alice Hegan Rice, Holman Day, Rex Stout, O. Henry, Charles Edward Barns, and Octavus Roy Cohen all made appearances in the journal. For Jack London collectors it has become a bit of marvelous legend, as London attributed his “A Thousand Deaths” story being printed there to saving his life.  They paid him when no one else would, and when he really needed the cash.  London is quoted having said, “literally and literarily I was saved.”


It is so coveted by collectors that the original edition featuring London sells at auction for more than the above hardbound books go for in antiquities stores.

Jack London The Black Cat

Were I a millionaire, I would not hesitate to buy them all up.  Standing in the store today I remembered Nicholas Basbaines’ A Gentle Madness as I salivated over the two collectibles on the shelf.  This is true beauty, I thought, this in my hand.

I read Jack London’s contribution, it is only a few pages, then continued to snap photos as I carefully turned the pages, my eyes thirsty for old fonts and typesetting.




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