New York: The Viking Press, 1935. First Edition. Octavo. Item #029133
154 pages. Signed by the artist. Author's first book. Abalone, Arizona, is a sleepy southwestern town whose chief concerns are boredom and surviving the Great Depression. That is, until the circus of Dr. Lao arrives and immensely and irrevocably changes the lives of everyone drawn to its tents. Expecting a sideshow spectacle, the citizens of Abalone instead confront and learn profound lessons from the mythical made real--a chimera, a Medusa, a talking sphinx, a sea serpent, witches, the Hound of the Hedges, a werewolf, a mermaid, an ancient god, and the elusive, ever-changing Dr. Lao. The circus unfolds, spinning magical, dark strands that ensnare the town's populace: the sea serpent's tale shatters love's illusions; the fortune-teller's shocking pronouncements toll the tedium and secret dread of every person's life; sensual undercurrents pour forth for men and women alike; and the dead walk again. Dazzling and macabre, literary and philosophical, The Circus of Dr. Lao has been acclaimed as a masterpiece of speculative fiction and influenced such writers as Ray Bradbury. Bound in red cloth, central pastedown of a mask, paper spine label, pictorial endpapers, some finger soiling to boards with a couple of small stains, in unclipped pictorial dust jacket which lacks the spine, upper flap detached but present rear flap has chipping along the fold.