A Tree of Night and Other Stories
New York: Random House, 1949. Octavo, original black cloth stamped in yellow and silver, original unclipped dust jacket with Cecil Beaton photograph on rear panel. Small square bookplate affixed to front pastedown. Lightest edgewear to jacket.
First edition of Capote's first collection of short stories, inscribed to “Mr. and Mrs. William Schimpf" on the front free endpaper. Capote published these eight stories in magazines between 1945 and 1949; “Miriam" and “Shut a Final Door" both won O. Henry Awards. Random House collected the stories into a book after the unexpected success of Capote's first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms. Set alternately in the South, where Capote was raised, and in New York City, where he launched his writing career, the stories are sometimes comic, sometimes sinister: “Now a sound can start a dream; the noise of one car passing in the night can drop a hundred sleepers into the deep parts of themselves. It's funny to think of that one car racing through the dark, trailing so many dreams. Sex, a sudden change of light, a pickle, these are little keys that can open up our insides, too. But most dreams begin because there are furies inside of us that blow open all the doors." The bookplate in this copy, designed by Rockwell Kent, belongs to Frederick Baldwin Adams, Jr., longtime director of the Pierpont Morgan Library and prominent American book collector. Neat pencil inscriptions face the first pages of “Master Misery" and “Miriam," recording Capote's comments on those stories in his 1957 Paris Review interview. A near-fine copy, inscribed by Capote, with excellent provenance.