Friday, May 2, 2008

Flashback Fridays: A Portrait of the Artist

Wow. I think this cover dates back to 1964. I remember "reading" this book in honors English class, grade 10. We had a great teacher named Mr. Blouin, who taught us how to read critically by asking tough questions and then jumping up on his desk and screaming "There's so much bullshit in this room there's nowhere left to stand!". Oh wait, no, we read this senior year. Anyway, the book was published in 1916, and tells the story of a writer who is the alter ego of James Joyce. This cover seems so rooted in 60s psychedelia, and I respect it for that, in part because it looks like nothing I would expect. But if the design was transported to today's design aesthetic, what would it look like? And would a publisher allow the design to look modern, or would they want a hint of the time the novel takes place in, namely a hundred years ago?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Designer ? : Child 44

Thank you, Caterina von Catherine, for tipping us off to this rather cool cover. This is a thriller that takes place in the former Soviet Union in 1953, during the last years of Stalin's regime. At a time when "murder" as a concept did not exist in the Soviet lexicon, only "enemies of the state", a detective investigates the murder of a child. I love the incorporation of the geometric red shape to the sparse, graphic photograph. The red shape could be the slope of a snowy hill against a red sky or a guillotine. I also can't help thinking this cover reminds me of a box of Marlboros. In a good way.

From Barnes & Noble: Tom Rob Smith is a screenwriter and novelist whose literary debut, 2008's Child 44, inspired an intense bidding war at the London Book Fair. The well-received thriller was subsequently optioned by film director Ridley Scott.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gabriele Wilson: A Blue Hand

Printed on what feels like watercolor paper, with a gorgeous wash of colors.

Publisher's Description:
In 1961, Allen Ginsberg left New York by boat for Bombay, India. He brought with him his troubled lover, Peter Orlovsky, and a plan to meet up with poets Gary Snyder and Joanne Kyger. He left behind not only fellow Beats Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, and William Burroughs, but also the relentless notoriety that followed his publication of Howl, the epic work that branded him the voice of a generation.

Drawing from extensive research in India, undiscovered letters, journals, and memoirs, acclaimed biographer Deborah Baker has woven a many layered literary mystery out of Ginsberg's odyssey. A Blue Hand follows him and his companions as they travel from the ashrams of the Himalayan foothills to Delhi opium dens and the burning pyres of Benares. They encounter an India of charlatans and saints, a country of spectacular beauty and spiritual promise and of devastating poverty and political unease. In Calcutta, Ginsberg discovers a circle of hungry young writers whose outrageousness and genius are uncannily reminiscent of his own past. Finally, Ginsberg searches for Hope Savage, the mysterious and beautiful girl whose path, before she disappeared, had crossed his own in Greenwich Village, San Francisco, and Paris.

In their restless, comic and oftimes tortured search for meaning, the Beats looked to India for answers while India looked to the West. A Blue Hand is the story of their search for God, for love, and for peace in the shadow of the atomic bomb. It is also a story of India-its gods and its poets, its politics and its place in the American imagination.