Richard Farina died in 1966 just two days after the publication of his first and only novel. He had recently turned 29 years old, but he'd already helped to manage his first wife Carolyn Hester's budding musical career; claimed to have fought with both the I.R.A. and Castro's rebels; recorded two well received folk albums with his second wife Mimi Baez (sister of Joan); and written -- what was to become -- one of the great cult classics of our time, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me.

 

Thomas Pynchon, Farina's friend, best man at his wedding to Mimi, and pallbearer at his funeral, said of Been Down So Long... that it "comes on like the Hallelujah Chorus done by 200 kazoo players with perfect pitch." An incredibly apt description if you can picture (or hear) it! The book, like the author, packs a tremendous amount of life into its 352 pages and centers on the hip and ultra-cool, Gnossos Pappadopoulis as he sets out to right the world's wrongs, have a drink or five, and hopefully score with a few co-eds. Sounds flippant, but underscoring this sublime ‘coming of age tale' is Farina's serious discourse on race, politics, and religion. And, the glue that holds all this hyperactive hyperbole together is Farina's marvelous use of language, an acerbic wit, and his continuous questioning of authority.

 

Farina was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after leaving a local California bookstore where he had, as far as I can tell, his only book signing. Supposedly he inscribed the books that day with the eerily prescient word, "Zoom!"  I've never seen an inscribed copy offered for sale which makes the book -- not unlike Richard Farina himself -- the rarest of rare.

 

 

Wondering what one of your books is worth? Feel free to PM me through My Profile Page.
Comments
by on ‎11-24-2009 03:45 PM

Well, well, well... look what just surfaced on the rare book market!

 

http://www.lopezbooks.com/highlight.php?bn=027891

 

$45,000!!

by Moderator Melissa_W on ‎11-24-2009 03:56 PM

Wow!  Not in great shape, but an inscription is worth it for a collector with the scratch (not sure about $45,000 tho...seems a bit much....)

by on ‎11-24-2009 04:03 PM

While the Lopez Books link hints at the possibility of Dylan and Pynchon having signed copies, they don't mention the fact that Farina must have given a signed copy to his wife, Mimi, which would be worth a small fortune as well. Incidentally, Farina was killed on Mimi's birthday -- tragic.

 

I imagine if Mimi did possess a signed copy, it most likely resides with one of her sisters (Joan or Pauline), as Mimi passed away in 2001.

by Moderator Melissa_W on ‎11-24-2009 04:20 PM

Yeah, the provenance of the copy would pull the asking price up.

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