New York: Viking Press, (1974). Single volume, measuring 8 x 5.5 inches: , 179, . Original black cloth spine lettered in blue and silver, blue paper boards stamped in silver with parrot motif, original unclipped blue and black marble-patterned dust jacket. Parrot motif on title and at head of each story. Inscribed by Colwin to Mary Ellin Barrett on front free endpaper. Edges of boards and jacket sunned, pinpoint foxing to edges.
First edition of Laurie Colwin’s first book, warmly inscribed to writer Mary Ellin Barrett in the year of publication: “to Mary Ellin / with love and thanks for friendship, instruction, aid and abettment, concern and care / with love + devotion / Laurie.” Over her short career, Colwin published a series of deft, deceptively light fictions of manners that won her a devoted following. Passion and Affect is her first book, a collection drawn from her early appearances in Mademoiselle, Redbook, and The New Yorker, among others. Colwin’s gift for characterization is already fully on display: “She hated frozen vegetables and spoke about it;” “He rarely laughed, but when he did it was like a meal;” “She had a serious kind of grace, as if she alone were responsible for holding herself together;” “It was for him that diplomatic immunity had been invented.” In 2021, thirty years after her death, Colwin’s publishers Vintage and Harper Perennial would collaborate on a uniform reissue of all ten of her books. A generation older than Colwin, recipient Mary Ellin Barrett was also a New Yorker, and the daughter of Irving Berlin. She held a series of high-profile literary positions in New York City, working as an editor and journalist, while publishing three novels of her own. Barrett was the longtime book critic at Cosmopolitan, where Colwin’s story “A Road in Indiana,” collected here, first appeared in 1972. A near-fine association copy of a modern classic, with a moving inscription.