Frank Waters, Fever Pitch (1930). The Native American author's first book.
Waters, Frank (1902-1995). Fever Pitch. New York: Horace Liveright, 1930. First edition. 19.5 cm.; 233pp. Very good in silver-stamped orange and blue cloth, in a very good example of the rare dust-jacket.
First edition of the author's first book. A native of Colorado, Waters identified strongly wih his Native American ancestry (his father was part Cheyenne), and wrote extensively on Indian topics. He was most widely revered for The Man Who Killed the Deer (1942) and The Book of the Hopi (1963), which became a key text for members of the American counterculture.
In his introduction to the 1984 reprint of the novel, published under the author's preferred original title (The Lizard Woman), Waters recalled the circumstances of writing:
The novel was begun in 1926, when I was twenty-four years old and working as a telephone engineer in Imperial Valley, on the California-Baja California border. During my stay there I made a horseback trip down into the little-known desert interior of Lower California. After having lived all of my early years in the high Rockies of California, I was unprepared for the vast sweep of sunstruck desert with its flat wastes, clumps of cacti, and barren parched-rock ranges. Its emotional impact was so profound, I was impelled to give voice to it with pencil and paper.
Comparing the novel’s narrative arc – “a nightmare journey into desolation and its paradoxical illumination … result[ing] in dislocation from history and society but also in a new sense of relationship to the universe ” – to works by Melville, Frost, Poe, and Conrad, critic Alexander Blackburn notes that the book foreshadows the author’s major themes of "unity, duality, and emergence."
Issued by Horace Liveright, one of the most interesting publishers of the 1930s, the book is seldom found in jacket.
- Blackburn, Alexander. "Frank Waters’s The Lizard Woman and the Emergence of the Dawn Man." Western American Literature, vol. 24 no. 2, 1989, p. 121-136.
- Tanner, Terence A. Frank Waters: A Bibliography. Glenwood, IL: Meyerbooks, 1983
- Waters, Frank. "Introduction" in The Lizard Woman. Austin: Thorp Springs Press, 1984.
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