Taking a step back and trying to be objective, Hotel Ortolan reminds me of those early paperbacks published by City Lights… little gems like A Hundred Camels in the Courtyard and True Minds. Or, perhaps, Breton’s illustrated novel Nadja published by Grove Press. Certainly Michel Varisco’s photographs are equally haunting.
Ortolan is the sort of slender surrealist volume one dreams of encountering at a bookshop in Paris. The door on the cover dares you to enter. And, of course, you do. You open that forbidding door, step inside and then…well, it’s too late. Whalen’s words are in your bloodstream. The book is destined to be displayed face out on one’s bookshelf, or even under glass. It’s surely not an edition one loans to a friend, as it will never be returned. It won’t find itself in a box at a yard sale in Greenwich, or at the Salvation Army in Sacramento. Maybe, just maybe, a copy will appear in the bin outside Strand in NYC, but only because it arrived from an estate sale and was mistakenly sorted by an ignorant temp.
Limited to only 125 copies, it’s already imbued with the aura of an avant-garde classic that collectors will search for without success.
“Ever seen a copy of Whalen’s Ortolan?”
Here’s your chance…