It's probably because I started as a bookseller in 1990 or thereabouts, and the full wave of Vintage Contemporaries was under way, but I've always had a soft spot for this series and its authors. Seeing the above picture that leads off the article at Talking Covers made me wish all over again for a full set of them on my bookshelves.
This comprehensive look back at the origins of the series - with stories from some of the authors, editors, designers, and artists - captures the magic, the lightning that struck, and the passion of everyone involved.
The line was a mix of reprints and originals, and nearly thirty years later the checklist found in the back of the books reads like a ballot for some Cooperstown of late-20th Century fiction.
Vintage Contemporaries is always in the back of my mind when I'm trying to sell some new series from one of my publishers to a bookstore. I'll probably never be involved in anything quite so wonderful - giants no longer walk the earth after all1 - but that shouldn't stop us from trying to make it happen, should it?
Go there now: Talking Covers: Vintage Contemporaries
"God, remember Vintage Contemporaries? When I was a teen ... anything with that spine went to the top of the list."bit.ly/QmXwp0— Maud Newton (@maudnewton) September 13, 2012
1 Sentimental footnote: Years after making the acquaintance of literary heroes like Richard Russo, Richard Ford, Michael Tolkin, Jay McInerney, Don DeLillo and Mary Gaitskill in their Vintage Contemporary editions, and breathlessly taking in the 1980s/1990s NYC publishing scene from afar via articles like this one about Jay and Bret and the young editorial turks like Gary Fisketjon and Morgan Entrekin, it was a little bit mind-blowing to attend my first PGW sales conference and find myself elbow-to-elbow chatting about the upcoming Grove/Atlantic list's strengths with Morgan Entrekin himself. I had that heady, sound-sucked-out-of-the-room, dizzying wobble that would be familiar to mortals who accidentally wandered onto Mount Olympus.