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Housebreaking by Dan Pope

Dan Pope

As both an author and a bookseller, Dan Pope is well-versed in the world of books. A true bibliophile, Dan has been selling books on AbeBooks for over 10 years. In that time he’s written two novels and a selection of short stories for Postroad, McSweeney’s, Crazyhorse, Shenandoah, Gettysburg Review, Witness, the Iowa Review and more.

His latest book, Housebreaking, is described as powerful, provocative, and psychologically gripping. The novel explores the ways that two families-and four lives-can all too easily veer off track.

When asked what inspired him to write Housebreaking, Dan answered, “A dog.”  Keep reading to find how a dog inspired a novel that The New York Times Sunday Book Review calls a “heartfelt chamber piece of flawed personalities, calamitous decisions and ­unexpected moments of grace.”

“She appeared by the back door of my parents’ house one evening over the holidays, howling.  This happened about twenty years ago. I was home from university.  She was a malamute, a bit overweight, with heavy gray and white fur.  She had somehow escaped from her home by breaking the link of her thirty-foot vinyl dog-line, which was trailing behind her.

Instinct – well, love – brought her, to seek out my brother’s Akita.  We let him outside to romp around with her for ten or twenty minutes, which ended with him making a half-hearted attempt at mounting her.  She growled and hissed and they had to be separated.  Then he came inside and happily went about his business, while the malamute stayed outside, sleeping on our front porch, apparently lovelorn. We let her into the house to warm up, but she immediately ate all the cat food and started on the dog bowl, which didn’t sit well with our Akita.  So we had to put her out again.  She stayed all night.

The next morning, her owner appeared, a lovely woman with her son, who was in his teens. They lived two streets over.  They’d been searching the neighborhood for their runaway.  They gathered their dog and took her home.

Housebreaking by Dan PopeA few days later, the malamute was back.  The same interactions occurred: dog-roughhousing, attempted humping, separation, reunification the next morning with rightful owner.  This happened often – more than a handful of times, over a few years.  The malamute had a talent for escape.

As I said, this happened a long time ago. I would see this woman and her son when I came home to visit my parents.  The mother and son would take walks around the neighborhood after dinner. The boy was blessed with a wonderful nature, intelligence, good looks.  I never really got to know him or his mother.  But we exchanged phone numbers, and whenever the malamute would appear, we would let the dogs play, then call to inform the mother or son of her escape.

A few years later, the story appeared in the newspaper.  The son had died in tragic circumstances overseas. It seemed impossible that this young man could be so suddenly gone. The dog disappeared around that time, too.  I don’t know what became of her.

That experience – the dog, the tragedy of the son – was the first germ for the book, although I had no intention of writing this novel back then. But much later, when I began to form an idea for a novel that took place in my hometown, that episode came to mind and became, in some way, the spine of the novel.

I started work on the book when I was 42 years old, when I returned to my childhood home in Connecticut after the death of my father, to help care for my mom.  The town, West Hartford – particularly the north side of town – is a quiet, comfortable place. After dark the neighborhood shuts down, even in summertime.

I would go out for walks at odd times of night – midnight, 2am – and I’d be more likely to see deer than people.  Once, a pack of coyotes ran past me, jumping over a split rail fence and disappearing across a lawn, as nimble as thieves.  The houses were silent and dark.  Once in a while you would see a blue glow of a TV or computer monitor through an upstairs window.  I got stopped by policemen more than once on these light-night jaunts:  “Do you live around here?”  I couldn’t blame them.  Anyone in the suburbs out that time of night is suspicious.  “Trouble sleeping,” I would tell the cops.  I didn’t want to admit the truth, that I stayed up to four in the morning writing this novel, every night, and that the air cleared my head when I get blocked.

Writers are, in a way, weirdos; they don’t really fit into the suburban vibe.

Being back there, in the rooms where I grew up, summoned, of course, a host of old memories.  But what struck me, more than the past, was the danger and tragedy that managed to find its way into this peaceful, affluent place.  A car crash on a sleepy side street took the life of a high school boy.  A troubled kid from the next street got his hands on a handgun and shot it off on his front lawn. Someone started breaking into garages and vandalizing homes.

All of this stuff, in some way, shaped the book I was writing and the feeling that came upon me, so different from how I used to view my neighborhood as a child, that the beautiful houses, the fine lawns, the orderly streets – it was all an illusion, a false promise that things would never change, that life was indefinite.”

Find signed copies of Housebreaking by Dan Pope on AbeBooks.com

The New Naturalist Series

Today’s gorgeous find on the site is this 14-volume set of leatherbound volumes from the New Naturalist Series, offered by UK bookseller Halewood and Sons, ABA, ILAB. Signed by the author, this set begs to be in the spot of honor on a favorite bookshelf.




nd talk about your beautiful books. A fascinating collection of books about Britain’s natural history, the Collins’ New Naturalist Series is informative but also eye-catching thanks to cover art depicting the magic of hedgerows, woodlands, lakes and the seaside. All manner of beasts and birdies, beetles and bushes – they’re all here.

With more than 100 titles in the series, many with small print runs, the New Naturalist books are adored by collectors with a love of flora and fauna, as well as anyone with a mind to learn more about the science and wonder behind the natural world.

A Visual Quiz: 30 Classic Children’s Books


Do you think you know children’s books? How well? Would you say the images of book covers from childhood are embedded in your brain?

Well, here’s a chance to find out. Test your mettle with this quiz of 30 classic childhood book covers. We chose the most iconic kids’ books we could think of, took a snippet from the cover, and enlarged it. Go on, take the quiz. Be sure to let us know how many you recognize correctly!

14 Collectible Star Wars Books: May the Fourth Be With You

May the Fourth be with you! Let it never be said that we at AbeBooks shirk our nerdly duty or don’t contribute to the joyful geekery or the culture at large.

Here are 14 delicious and collectible Star Wars books and collectible Star Wars memorabilia and ephemera, to ooh and ahh over, or possibly even make your very own.


STAR WARS: Limited Edition Pop-up by Matthew Reinhart

STAR WARS: Limited Edition Pop-up by Matthew Reinhart


1978 Dynamite Magazine featuring Chewbacca (fine, and Shaun Cassidy)

1978 Dynamite Magazine featuring Chewbacca (fine, and Shaun Cassidy)

Signed copy of Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover

Signed copy of Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover

Signed copy of Star Wars - Attack of the Clones by Matthew Stover

Signed copy of Star Wars – Attack of the Clones by Matthew Stover

 Star Wars - Original Soundtrack by John Williams, on two vinyl records, 1977

Star Wars – Original Soundtrack by John Williams, on two vinyl records, 1977

Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker by Alan Dean Foster writing as George Lucas

Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker by Alan Dean Foster writing as George Lucas

Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars by Trish Biggar

Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars by Trish Biggar

Selections from Star Wars for Guitar - Music by John Williams

Selections from Star Wars for Guitar –
Music by John Williams

Harrison Ford Still Photograph Collection - ncluded are three stills from "Star Wars"

Harrison Ford Still Photograph Collection – ncluded are three stills from “Star Wars”

Marvel Special Edition of Star Wars, 1977

Marvel Special Edition of Star Wars, 1977

Fifteen blueprints for the sets and effects of the original Star Wars movie.

Fifteen blueprints for the sets and effects of the original Star Wars movie.

Star Wars #1 (Marvel Comics 2015) by Jason Aaron

Star Wars #1 (Marvel Comics 2015) by Jason Aaron

Inscribed first edition of The Little Prince goes on sale for $237,000

A remarkable early copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic children’s story featuring a drawing and a note of thanks to Dorothy Barclay, the reporter’s assistant who helped the author estimate the number of stars visible from Earth, has gone on sale for $237,000 (£150,000).

The inscribed copy of The Little Prince

Saint-Exupéry wrote The Little Prince, published in 1943, while living on Long Island in the United States. He asked a friend, Helen Lazeroff, a reporter on the New York Times, to help him find out how many stars can be seen from Earth. Her assistant, Dorothy Barclay, phoned the Hayden Planetarium in Manhattan and reported back to the author.

In the book, the Little Prince meets a businessman who is counting the stars – 501,622,731 – which he claims he owns. The grateful author inscribed this copy to Barclay and drew a picture showing a disappointed Little Prince after landing on Earth.

In the sketch, the downcast Prince says (written in French): “You’d have to be completely crazy to have chosen this planet. It is only pleasant at night when the inhabitants are asleep.”

However, below the figure Saint-Exupéry has added (again in French): “The Little Prince was wrong. There are on Earth some inhabitants whose straightforwardness, sweetness and generosity of heart make up for the avarice and egotism of the others. For example, Dorothy Barclay …”

The book, an English language first edition published by Reynal & Hitchcock, is offered for sale by London-based bookseller Peter Harrington (check out their video below about the book). This copy of The Little Prince is by far the most expensive one for sale on the AbeBooks marketplace.

The book for sale also includes a typed note from Barclay to Saint-Exupéry saying she thought the book was “movingly beautiful.”

The Little Prince remains one of the most iconic books published in the 20th century. Translated into dozens of languages, it tells the story of a crashed pilot who meets a young prince who has fallen to Earth. Saint-Exupéry, a pilot himself, died when his plane disappeared over the Mediterranean in 1944 so collectible copies of this nature are extremely rare.

Saint-Exupéry’s inscription to Dorothy Barclay in The Little Prince

This particular copy is around $237,000 out of my personal price range but I can recommend The Little Prince 70th Anniversary Gift Set which includes an audio CD of the fable narrated by Viggo Mortensen.

Amazon’s Top 10 Books: May 2015

The first day of the month is always dangerous. Not only have I been paid the day before, but our friends at Amazon.com release their Top 10 Book Picks for the month, and it somehow always seems to be a list curated exactly for me. This month, for example, includes a true story of a fishing crew struggling to survive in the icy waters of the Antarctic sea, a tense, riveting novel about betrayal, treason and the quest for freedom in a brutal world reminiscent of ancient Rome, and a book whose cover art features a grenade disguised as a cupcake.

Tailor-made for me, I tell you.  That’s okay Amazon, I don’t need to pay my mortgage – I’ll just build a cozy book shack, a literary lean-to of sorts, out of all my books.

…at least I’ll die happy.

If you missed last month, you can still see April’s Top 10 here.  And in the meantime, without further ado, here’s this month’s list, including the Amazon debut book of the month, The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora.



1. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir


2. Dietland by Sarai Walker


3. Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation by Dean Jobb


4. A God in Ruins: A Novel by Kate Atkinson


5. Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann


6. Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas by Matt Lewis


7. My Struggle: Book Four by Karl Ove Knausgaard


8. On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sachs


9. Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson


10. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough


And the Amazon debut of the month, The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora.


Found this gem hidden amid the creased romance novels in a thrift store

The Penguin 1972 paperback edition of A Clockwork Orange

I found this 1972 Penguin paperback edition of A Clockwork Orange in a thrift store at the weekend. I could see row after row of creased romance novels and then spotted some orange spines, so I reached in to see what the books were.

This came out. At the counter, the volunteer – a lady who would have been in her prime when this novella was first published in 1962 – could not remember whether she had to charge me 50 cents or 75 cents, so I bargained her up to 75 cents.

The book is slim but that eye-catching cover design is truly memorable.

Seventy five cents isn’t really a bargain because you can find copies for $1 plus shipping on the AbeBooks marketplace.

I started to read it within minutes and, frankly, it’s not easy. Anthony Burgess’ language is difficult to grasp and the reader has to keep referring the glossary at the back. The story is set in the future but Burgess was probably thinking 2015 would be radically different to how it has turned out.

I have always been mildly amused that the story begins in a milk bar. I remember visiting milk bars during family holidays to Wales in the 1970s when they could still be found before McDonald’s took over. You cannot imagine a less threatening location (unless you have a dairy allergy).

31 Matted Japanese & Indonesian Costume Prints

Today’s amazing book find: Not a book at all, this collection of 31 matted Japanese & Indonesian costume prints is just gorgeous. The 31 prints come from Emile Gallois’ 1920 French book Costumes Japonais et Indonésiens and were manually printed and matted in pochoir by M. Henri Hus in Paris in 1930. See five here:






One last word on World Book Day and the ILAB pop-up book fairs

AbeBooks’ Jessica Doyle (far right) with the booksellers at the Portland, Oregon, pop-up rare book fair

Thanks to everyone in Munich, Tokyo and Portland, Oregon, who made AbeBooks’ staff feel very welcome at yesterday’s pop-up rare book fairs.  The ILAB pop-up book fair blog is filled with great pictures from the events. It was wonderful to see rare books put in front of so many people around the world. My personal favorite is the VW campervan (called Celeste) that was touring around southern England yesterday although the boat in Amsterdam comes a close second.

And here’s Jessica Doyle’s summary of her visit to Portland….

Some of the books on display in the Portland brew pub

The final edition of the worldwide 2015 ILAB Pop-up Book Fair in support of Unesco World Book and Copyright Day took place in Portland, Oregon at a neighborhood brew pub.  Few things make a better pair than books and beer, and it should be noted that not a pint was spilled as browsers, booksellers, and avid collectors perused the tables.

Organized by Elisabeth Burdon of Old Imprints, the event showcased an impressive and eclectic selection of ephemera. Elisabeth exhibited antique maps and prints, while at the next table Glenn Mason of the Ephemera Society of America displayed one-of-a-kind treasures including a Press Ticket from the 1886 Illinois State Fair and an assortment of cheerful vintage advertisements.  Across the room, a Seattle-based collector displayed quite a different kind of ephemera – his extensive personal collection of Civil War era posters, newspapers, and the like.

Also exhibiting at the fair was Charles Seluzicki of Charles Seluzicki Fine & Rare Books, Nathaniel Des Marais of Nat Des Marais Rare Books, and Rachelle Markley of Crooked House Books & Paper – each with a beautiful sample of inventory ranging from vintage children’s books to limited edition poetry.

The pinnacle of the event was the moment I realized that there are far less than six degrees of separation between myself and Ernest Hemingway.  In a conversation about modern literature, AbeBooks seller Charles Seluzicki informed me that he had been a close friend of Malcom Cowley, author of Exile’s Return: A Literary Odessey of the 1920s.  Cowley, Charles informed me, was real pals with Hemingway and the Lost Generation crew.  So there you have it – I am acquainted with a friend of a friend of Ernest Hemingway’s.

Unesco World Book and Copyright Day. ILAB Pop Up Book Fair


From guest blogger and AbeBooks staff member Colin Laird, in Tokyo today.

One of the most fascinating things about Japan is the harmonious blend of old and new. If you spend enough time there, seeing a thousand-year-old temple set among skyscrapers or watching as elegant ladies dressed in kimono rush past teens sporting the latest (and often bizarre) fashion trends will start to feel perfectly normal. Today, as I headed into Tokyo to attend the Pop-Up Book Fair put on by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) aboard a Shinkansen at more than 300km/h, I knew that I was about to experience one of those special paradoxes.

Tokyo’s edition of 2015 ILAB Pop-up Book Fair in support of Unesco World Book and Copyright Day took place in the World Antiquarian Book Plaza (WABP) – a permanent fixture on the third floor of Maruzen Bookstores in centrally-located Nihonbashi. Founded in 2011, the WABP is a treasure trove of rare and antiquarian books, and collectible printed materials from 22 world-renowned antiquarian booksellers from 11 countries.

Thoughtfully laid out with a museum-like feel, WABP offers an impressive selection of items ranging from ancient clay tablets to intricate pop-up books; and from 15th century illuminated manuscripts to 20th century modern signed first editions. The partner booksellers often refresh their inventory and local curators make great effort to elegantly display the material. A large part of the collection is displayed out in the open, available for anyone to view up close and personal.

My host, Mr. Naoyuki Seki (Secretary of ABAJ, and Manager of Antiquarian Books for YUSHODO Co) kindly took the time to show me some very interesting books and other collectible printed material, including some of the following collections:

• A series of books published in the late 1800s as Tokyo opened its doors to Western influence. Written in languages other than Japanese (including English, French, German, and Danish) these books were printed to give a first glimpse of Japanese culture and folktales to foreigners wanting to know more about this fascinating land. Beautifully illustrated and printed on “Crepe Paper” – a cloth-like type of paper – Mr. Seki was more than happy to bring the collection out from behind the glass case to allow for a closer look, and to feel the beautiful texture.

• A special-themed monthly collection put together by the WABP members: April’s focus was on paper – including Japanese Washi, and many other types of beautiful and collectible hand-made paper and paper products.

• A stunning selection of visually-pleasing items including woodblock prints, lithographs, and rare hand-colored early photographic postcards. It also included several rare pop-up books, depicting scenes such as the Voyage of Marco Polo, or Little Red Riding Hood.

• A set of gorgeous ancient copperplate-engraved maps printed in Germany including some of the earliest foreign-made depictions of Japan.

• A set of ancient Japanese playing cards containing phrases from historical Japanese poets.

Maruzen Bookstore is well-worth a trip on its own merits, but the addition of the WABP makes it a must-visit for any booklover in Tokyo. Take a moment to step out from the bustle of Tokyo and spend a quiet moment taking in some of the best collectible books Tokyo has to offer.
World Antiquarian Book Plaza is open every day (except January 1) from 10:00 – 20:00.

Here are just a few of the treasures Colin was lucky enough to see: