First (and almost certainly only) printing of Fran Lebowitz's first published book, a sleaze novel to which she admitted to authorship in 2010 – a sort of JANE EYRE through porn-tinted glasses.
Very good plus.
HOUSE OF LEATHER
"He turned and walked down the street as if summoned by a power stronger than himself... he returned to the House of Leather."
Fran Lebowitz, the "famous writer who famously doesn't write" (Freeman), avoided sleaze infamy by publishing under other names in her early career. "I published [HOUSE OF LEATHER] under the name of the headmaster who threw me out of prep school, Robert Paine Cook" (The Private Library), she recalls in a 2010 interview; that name was evidently changed to a house pseudonym by the publisher, an unfortunate obfuscation of an early example of Lebowitz's biting sardonicism. But the contents of THE HOUSE OF LEATHER — which she recounts she wrote for $500 based on "stapled pages [from the publisher] that told you how to write [...] and what had to be in each book" (The Private Library) — retain a certain (unnecessary) literary and cosmopolitan quality for which she later became known.
A dark gay BDSM romp through a house in which residents corrupt and are corrupted, THE HOUSE OF LEATHER would not be out of place among gothics such as REBECCA, THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, or JANE EYRE. The House is the first "character" we meet and the shadow that none of the other players can escape from. It's a very classical framing for a story packed with (albiet well-written) kinky smut, in which Lebowitz manages to convey a sex slave's longing for freedom and ultimate surrender while plumbing the depths of synonyms for various bodily fluids.
Lebowitz has not been widely identified with HOUSE OF LEATHER outside of her remarks in 2010 – likely due to her muddling of the publisher's name (conflating Midway for Midwood), and the pre-publication alteration of her pseudonym. OCLC records just six scattered copies. A very nice copy of a notably scarce and little-known work.
Read more: Hadley Freeman, "Fran Lebowitz: 'If people disagree with me, so what?'," The Guardian 28 August 2021; "Fran Lebowitz on Reading," The Private Library / The Well Dressed Bibliophile.
First edition. New York: Cameo Editions, (1971). 7'' x 4.25''. Original color pictorial wrapper. Midwood Books M-195-98. 184,  pages. Mild edgewear. Faint crease to spine. Else bright and sharp.
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