Can you point to your first book? I can. No, it wasn't the first book I ever read, but it was the first collectible book I ever obtained. It started me on a journey that took me from nascent book collector, when I really had no idea what that meant, to sophisticated book collector, to professional book seller, to member of the Antiquarian Bookseller's Association of America (ABAA). The year was 1967. I was a 19-year-old sophomore at San Jose State University. My girlfriend at that time knew I was a big John Steinbeck freak, having written just about every term paper in high school about him and his works. He was my hero. He died a year later. For Christmas that year she gave me a book -- a first edition of Steinbeck's masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath. I was thrilled. It was a very thoughtful gift, one that I would never have considered. ... [more My First Book]
Blog posts by James M. Dourgarian
Jim Dourgarian specializes in Modern First Editions, with a special emphasis on John Steinbeck, Steinbeckiana, Ed Ricketts, Wallace Stegner, Tony Hillerman, John D. MacDonald, as well as Western Americana, Photography, and Armed Services Editions.
To mark the 75th Anniversary of 1939, we've asked some ABAA members to discuss publications from that momentous year. Jim Dourgarian, a specialist in Steinbeck (among other authors), recounts his experiences reading and selling The Grapes of Wrath. The 1930s were a turbulent and momentous decade for John Steinbeck. He published such diverse and quality books as The Pastures of Heaven, Tortilla Flat, In Dubious Battle, Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and finally, on April 14, 1939, his masterpiece— The Grapes of Wrath. I had been introduced to Steinbeck as a high school freshman. My English teacher said we could read only one of his books per semester because he was “too brutal,” but brutal was exactly what I wanted. I was hooked. Steinbeck spoke for the underdog, the oppressed— and that was me! And many of the people who populated ... [more 1939: The Grapes of Wrath]