This one was in rough shape. It was 40 years old and it showed. The paperback cover was slightly torn and yellowed. Some of the pages had separated from the spine. To the casual browser the book blended with the rest of the crud on the shelf. Would the store owner know what it was worth? Maybe I could score a deal? I checked the title page. $200 penciled in. Damn. The owner did know.
from Work From the Same House
I sat down and leafed through. There were roughly 40 pages of Friedlander photos paired with weird hairy quasi-sexual etchings. About 1/3 of the photos were new to me. The rest I'd seen in later Friedlander books. But this was the primordial cauldron, his first book, before he'd really decided how to organize his work. The short bio on the back cover was perfect. "Born in Aberdeen, WA, 1934, nothing else is known about him." Or something to that effect. So even back then Mr. Lee had been elusive.
Any self-respecting Friedlander fanatic would've bought the thing on the spot. When you stumble on a book like that you were meant to find it. You don't pass it up. You bring it home and it becomes a cornerstone of your book collection.
On the other hand...$200 for a crummy old book that I might look through once or twice? A book with many photos I had in other books? And etchings I didn't really appreciate? A book that was well on its way to disintegration?
I don't need to tell you what I did. You already know.