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Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay, with Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer Paperback – November 1, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 108 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Paperback Printing edition (November 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140159975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140159974
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 7.3 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,277,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Deadpan and literate, the strip is like a dream of some black-and-white forties movie stumbled across on late-night TV, full of high angles looking down on vacant streets, jarring close-ups, and dated colloquialisms." -- New York Magazine, July 23, 1990

From the Back Cover

In a vast and shadowy city of old skyscrapers, neglected warehouses, juice stands, and coffee shops, Julius Knipl, a rumpled, middle-aged man in a suit and hat, wanders the streets photographing buildings and pondering the details: the scent of the past that seeps into the present; the ghosts of other values and cultures embedded in the urban landscape; people and behaviors almost gone that linger on. He sees what others overlook.

More About the Author

Ben Katchor's picture-stories and drawings have appeared in the Forward, Metropolis Magazine, and The New Yorker. His weekly strips include: Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, The Jew of New York, The Cardboard Valise, Hotel & Farm and most recently Shoehorn Technique. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, was a fellow at The American Academy in Berlin and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.
Katchor's libretto and drawings for The Carbon Copy Building, a collaboration with Bang on a Can, received an Obie Award for Best New American Work.
More recently, he has collaborated with musician Mark Mulcahy on "The Rosenbach Company," a sung-through musical biography of Abe Rosenbach, the preeminent rare-book dealer of the 20th century, "The Slugbearers of Kayrol Island," which won an Obie Award in 2008, "A Checkroom Romance," a love story about the culture and architecture of the coat-check room and most recently, "Up From the Stacks," the story of a page retrieving books from the stacks of The New York Public c. 1970.
He is an Associate Professor at Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City.
For more information visit www.katchor.com

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
and I can't believe no one else has ever reviewed it. These stories are about a never-never New York, filled with oddness and with indelible characters. The artwork is challenging: shadowy ink drawings that appear off-the-cuff but reveal, on inspection, a flood of detail and nuance.
Julius Knipl is an amazing creation: a funny man with many funny tics, and a man whose loneliness is terribly moving. There's a sequence in "Cheap Novelties" that concerns Knipl's attendance at the funeral of an old friend; I'm not sure I've ever seen so much emotion rendered with so little ink. My eyes mist over every time I think of it.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
Julius P. Knipl Real Estate Photographer is a comic strip celebrating sentimental reminders of a world behind us now. Cheap Novelities is a collection of these comics that speak of the way things used to be, the way things are, and the way things should be. The main character, Julius Knipl, is a reserved witness to the changes of progress and the artifacts of society hidden below the surface. Knipl points out the importance of decorative molding, ceiling fans in a metropolitan summer, the lonely but essential task of elevator inspectors, the implications of a soup factory closing and so on. The writing is moving, disturbing, and subtley hilarious. I find myself quoting these strips from time to time. Cheap Novelties is a fantastic read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Frederick Baker on May 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Mozart was born to make music whereas Ben Katchor has the gift of capturing the essence of free enterprise and the soul of Everyman in 20th century America. My God, if Katchor had been alive in the 1800's, what conclusions could we have drawn from that age? Don't stop, Katchor! You're onto something that will endure. Your insight is amazing. Your humor is matchless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David R. Anderson on August 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ben Katchor brought Julis Knipl ("Knipl" is the Yiddish word for "nest egg") to life in the pages of the alternative newspapers once found in city street corner coin boxes: the New York Press, the Miami New Times, Providence, R.I. Nice Paper and others. What a gift! "Cheap Novelties" collects 86 short (mostly one-page, eight panel entries) and one long story, the aptly named "Cheap Merchandise District" - to make up the first of three collections of Julis Knipl, Real Estate Photographer" strips. It is not the best known, that honor goes to "Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer" (1996), but it is the mother lode. Edward Sorel, reviewing the 1996 book for the New York Times called Katchor "the most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip."

This is Americana. To place it in time, think back to the five and dime stores that anchored main street commercial districts before the Wal-Marts of the world took over. In my Maine home town, population 2000 or so before WW II, Turner's 5 cents to $1.00 Store carried some of more mundane merchandise Julius Knipl prowls for in the Cheap Merchandise District of his imaginary metropolis: sets of magnetic Scottie Dogs, moth powder discs, rabbit's foot key chains, live turtles and snow globes.

Knipl's decaying metropolis offers all that Turner's did and much more: newspaper weights, peep-o-viewers, city provided mustard fountains, boutonnieres that squirt you with water when you bend down to smell the flower, bald spot removers, hat band rain predictors, and day old bread. Katchor offers us the chance to cast another glance at what gave up when we turned our back on the inner city. Of course, now that we're moving back again, the While U Wait Alterations shops are gone.
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