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Book News: First Superman Comic Soars To $3.2 Million At Auction

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • A copy of 1938's Action Comics No. 1, which features the first appearance of Superman, sold for a record-breaking $3,207,852 to an unnamed buyer on Sunday. Darren Adams, the owner of Pristine Comics, posted it on eBay on Aug. 14. The only other comic to sell for anything close to as much was a copy of Action Comics No. 1 that had been owned by Nicolas Cage, which sold for $2.16 million in 2011. The Washington Post explains, "Adams's Superman book is graded at '9.0,' an almost unheard-of condition for this issue, which hit newsstands in the summer of 1938." Adams told the Post, "I actually held it for a few years — I was so excited about this book. And equally exciting to having a book of this condition is the fact that nobody knew it existed. Most books have a history ... but this book was totally off the grid, and nobody knew about it till I made it known."
  • The New Yorker has an excerpt of Lena Dunham's forthcoming book, Not That Kind of Girl. On childhood anxiety, she writes: "My parents are getting worried. It's hard enough to have a child, much less a child who demands to inspect our groceries and medicines for evidence that their protective seals have been tampered with. I have only the vaguest memory of a life before fear."
  • For T magazine, three writers consider the enigma of Elena Ferrante, the pseudonymous Italian novelist. Gideon Lewis-Kraus writes: "Part of the point of her withdrawal is to show her country, with its reality shows and cult-of-personality politics, that celebrity — the universal, wrathful demand of the public for complete disclosure — might be graciously declined."
  • Notable Books Coming Out This Week:

  • Jacqueline Woodson was born "brown-skinned, black-haired / and wide-eyed" in 1960s America, "a country caught / between Black and White." Brown Girl Dreaming is her memoir-in-verse, a collection of lovely poems aimed at young adults. The shortest poems are often the most piercing. One, "ghosts," reads:
  • "In downtown Greenvillle,

    they painted over the WHITE ONLY signs,

    except on the bathroom doors,

    they didn't use a lot of paint

    so you can still see the words, right there

    like a ghost standing in front

    still keeping you out."

    Woodson is a warm, graceful poet, and this collection should be read by young people the country over, brown or not, girls or not.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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