Two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey read from and signed his new book, The Chemistry of Tears (US: Knopf, 2012; UK: Faber&Faber, 2012) last night at the lovely BookCourt Bookstore in Brooklyn. According to Carey, the book did come out first in Australia (as some of his others have). The pictures here are only of the just- released US edition (which states that the book was first published in Great Britain--odd!) and the UK which hit the shelves a few weeks ago. You can see the Australian edition, which was released 1/25/12, here. It isn't Carey's availabilty that makes him tough to collect, it's all those Australian true firsts!
Carey is a pleasant engaging man with a winning sense of humor. He gave some insight into his writing and research process, noting that when he finishes a novel, he often has no thoughts left in his head. Carey revealed that he wrote four doomed novels before finding sucess, and I assume from what he said that these will never see the light of day: "shit doesn't get better with age." He read from the beginning of the new book and I was immediately interested. I usually have trouble getting into Carey's quirky books, but started in last night on this one and am enjoying it so far. Below left is the US edition and right is the UK (Faber&Faber).
My sense is that Carey's signature is relatively easy to come by, but as I said, getting Australian first printings can be a chore. Below you can see two examples from last night. (Carey and I had trouble getting together on the inscriptions; he forgot the year on my first copy and, for the second book, I asked for a line from the book that is not on the same page in the UK edition.) There is also an example of a signed book I found months ago in a used store in Brooklyn. Does the third look authentic?
Carey's difficulties with the date and quotation made me reflect on the perennial debate over how much writing the author should do on the page. (I told him jokingly that now I was going to have to buy another copy.) Some people prefer the book be personalized to them. Others prefer just a clean signature. Some argue the more writing--inscriptions, quotations--the more valuable. Others think this detracts from the value. My own feelings are that the more writing the better position is probably right, but I never have books signed to me. At some point, I'll track down some of the more silly inscriptions I have gotten from authors, though none are as bawdy as this guys'.