counter middle-aged couples in overcoats bunch their faces forward into
the straws of gray ice-cream sodas. In the hush his entrance induces,
the excessive courtesy the weary woman behind the counter shows him
amplifies his strangeness. He orders coffee quietly and studies the rim
of the cup to steady the sliding in his stomach. He had thought, he had
read, that from shore to shore all America was the same. He wonders, Is
it just these people I’m outside, or is it all America?”
FIRST EDITION of one of the seminal works of twentieth-century American
was meant to be a realistic demonstration of what happens when a young
American family man goes on the road – the people left behind get hurt.
There was no painless dropping out of the Fifties’ fraying but still
tight social weave. Arriving at so prim a moral was surely not my only
intention: the book ends on an ecstatic, open note that was meant to
stay open, as testimony to our heart’s stubborn amoral quest for
something once called grace” (John Updike).
Alfred A. Knopf, 1960. Octavo, original half green cloth and blue-gray
boards, original dust jacket
(first state dust jacket with 16-line blurb on front flap).
Owner signature on front free
endpaper. Book fine, dust jacket with fading to spine, wear at spine
ends, and some rubbing to front panel. $975.