The Flutter of an Eyelid

Brinig, Myron

Published by Farrar & Rinehart (c.1933), New York, 1933
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From ReadInk, ABAA/IOBA (Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.)

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(no dust jacket) [hinges a little weak (in front, due to neat removal of ffep), spine slightly turned, shelfwear to bottom edge and spine ends, gilt lettering on front cover still bright and easily readable, gilt title and publisher on spine a little rubbed, but still legible; partial front jacket flap affixed to front pastedown, tiny bookseller's rubber stamp (Stowe's Book Shop, Portland) on rear endpaper]. (chapter-head illustrations) Very scarce novel set in Southern California in the 1920s, and a lost classic if there ever was one. One modern-day commentator has observed that the book was "killed by neglect" (receiving only a single review -- a pan -- in the Saturday Review of Literature), but as Kevin Starr relates in "Material Dreams: Southern California Through the 1920s," its fate may have been a bit more complicated than that. The book was, in fact, a scabrously satirical portrait of Southern California's bohemian community, and in particular of prominent L.A. bookman Jake Zeitlin and his circle of friends and associates (which included Merle Armitage, Edward Weston and others). Since it was Zeitlin himself who had originally introduced the author to this group -- invited him in, essentially -- he quite justifably viewed the book as an "insulting betrayal" (Starr's words), and in fact took steps took legal steps against it. Starr observes that Brinig's caricature of Zeitlin ("Sol Mosier" in the book) was anti-Semitic "even by the most forgiving of standards," and Zeitlin, having seen a set of galleys prior to publication, threatened a lawsuit and thereby succeeded in having the most offensive passages removed from the book prior to publication. In spite of (or maybe because of) being out of print for over eighty years, the book has achieved a kind of quasi-mythic reputation, and has been cited as both a landmark in Southern California fiction and an early gay novel. David Fine, who discusses it at some length in his excellent book "Imagining Los Angeles: A City in Fiction," describes it as possibly "the strangest novel to come out of the territory -- a novel not set in Hollywood or dealing with the making of movies, but saturated with every fantasy and dream associated with the region." It's also admired (if that's the word, and maybe only by California-haters) for its apocalyptic finale, in which the state is struck by a massive earthquake and (you guessed it) falls into the ocean -- "not the first or the last time," writes Starr, "this fate would be dealt by fictionists to the Pacific Coast." (It's this latter aspect that also earned it a mention in Mike Davis's "Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster.") NOISBN. Bookseller Inventory # 12773

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Flutter of an Eyelid

Publisher: Farrar & Rinehart (c.1933), New York

Publication Date: 1933

Binding: Hardcover

Illustrator: Illustrated by Lynd Ward

Book Condition:Very Good

Edition: First Edition

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