The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

October 24, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Penguin Modern Classics The Cut-Up Trilogy by William Burroughs

Following on from yesterday’s post on Penguin’s pocket hardback classics, Penguin Modern Classics are also reissuing William Burroughs’ cut-up trilogy with menacingly dark collage cover art by Julian House:

9780141396064

9780141189789

9780141189772

October 21, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Iggy Pop’s BBC Music John Peel Lecture

Last week, Iggy Pop delivered this year’s BBC Music John Peel Lecture on the topic of ‘Free Music in a Capitalist Society’ at Radio Festival 2014 in Salford:

I worked half of my life for free. I didn’t really think about that one way or the other, until the masters of the record industry kept complaining that I wasn’t making them any money. To tell you the truth, when it comes to art, money is an unimportant detail. It just happens to be a huge one unimportant detail. But, a good LP is a being, it’s not a product. It has a life-force, a personality, and a history, just like you and me. It can be your friend. Try explaining that to a weasel.

As I learned when I hit 30 +, and realized I was penniless, and almost unable to get my music released, music had become an industrial art and it was the people who excelled at the industry who got to make the art. I had to sell most of my future rights to keep making records to keep going. And now, thanks to digital advances, we have a very large industry, which is laughably maybe almost entirely pirate so nobody can collect shit. Well, it was to be expected. Everybody made a lot of money reselling all of recorded musical history in CD form back in the 90s, but now the cat is out of the bag and the new electronic devices which estrange people from their morals also make it easier to steal music than to pay for it. So there’s gonna be a correction.

You can read the complete transcript here, or listen to it (for the next couple of weeks at least) on the BBC’s iPlayer. You can also download it as a podcast for posterity.

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October 19, 2014
by Dan
2 Comments

Peter Mendelsund on Fresh Air

cover

I think there are two primary jobs that a jacket has to do: It has to represent a text and it has to sell it. In a way, a book jacket … is sort of like a title that an author comes up with. It’s one thing that has to speak to a big aggregate thing, which is the book itself. And it has to be compelling in some way such that you’re interested enough to pick it up — and perhaps buy it. … It’s like a billboard or an advertisement or a movie trailer or a teaser. …

I think of a book jacket as being sort of like a visual reminder of the book, but … it’s also a souvenir of the reading experience. Reading takes place in this nebulous kind of realm, and in a way, the jacket is part of the thing that you bring back from that experience. It’s the thing that you hold on to.

Peter Mendelsund, book designer and author of What We See When We Read, interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air:

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October 17, 2014
by Dan
5 Comments

Bugs

 

bugs2

This, the latest post in my Beasts! series, was unexpectedly difficult to compile. While it seems there isn’t a book cover in existence that couldn’t be improved by putting on a bird on it, bugs are, at least by comparison, somewhat rare. While I assumed that bees, beetles, butterflies, centipedes, flies, spiders, termites et al would naturally lend themselves to evocative book designs, we are apparently still quite squeamish about creatures with six legs or more. That said, today’s post includes far more rejected (and short-lived covers) than previous instalments in the series, which that it isn’t necessarily the designers who are afraid of creepy crawlies, but rather other decision-makers in the process are worried about their negative influence on sales. Hopefully some of these covers will change their minds about that…

acid-house
The Acid House by Irvine Welsh; design by Matt Broughton (Vintage Books)

9780374104092
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer; design by Charlotte Strick; Illustration by Eric Nyquist (FSG / February 2014)

Arcadia RD 1 cleanb
Arcadia by Lauren Groff; design by Will Staehle (Voice / March 2012)

babayaga
Babayaga by Toby Barlow; design by Gray318 (Corvus / February 2014)


The Bees by Laline Paull; design by Steve Attardo (Ecco / May 2014)

bees
The Bees by Laline Paull; design by Jo Walker (Fourth Estate / May 2014)

beautiful-you
Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk; design by Rodrigo Corral Design (Doubleday / October 2014)

BoneGap_Jkt_des4
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby; design by Michelle Taormina (Balzer + Bray / March 2015)

Lorenzo_Petrantoni
Boxer Beetle by Ned Beauman; illustration by Lorenzo Petrantoni (Sceptre / August 2010)

Brodeck-s_Report_Anna-Heath
Brodeck’s Report by Phillipe Claudel; design by Anna Heath (Quercus)

9781250045058
Bug Music by David Rothenberg; design by Ervin Serrano (St. Martin’s Press / May 2013)

Carnival-brian-morgan
Carnival by Rawi Hage; design by Brian Morgan, illustration by Lorenzo Petrantoni (House of Anansi Press / August 2012)


Chop Chop by Simon Wroe; design by Ben Wiseman (Penguin / April 2014)

cockroach-albert-tang
Cockroach by Rawi Hage; design by Albert Tang (W. W. Norton / October 2009)

cockroach-bill-douglas-unused
Cockroach by Rawi Hage; design by Bill Douglas (House of Anansi / unused)

constant-gardener
Constant Gardener by John Le Carre; design by Stuart Bache (Sceptre)

crowd c
Crowd of Sounds by Adam Sol; design by Bill Douglas (House of Anansi / April 2003)

electricity
Electricity by Victoria Glendinning; design by David Mann (Pocket Books / April 2006)

escaping-into-the-open-bookdesigners
Escaping into the Open by Elizabeth Berg; design by The Book Designers (Harper / August 2012)

Fever
Fever by Sonia Shah; design by LeeAnn Falciani (Picador / June 2011)

The First Principles of Dreaming
The First Principles of Dreaming by Beth Goobie; design by Natalie Olsen / Kisscut Design (Second Story Press / September 2014)


Generation A by Douglas Coupland; design by Jennifer Heuer (Simon & Schuster / June 2010)

9783608501100
Generation A by Douglas Coupland; design by Books We Made (Tropen / August 2010)

DR_GHost_Moth_Hand
Ghost Moth by Michèle Forbes; design by Kathleen Lynch / Black Kat Design (Penguin Canada / October 2013)

Sting
A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson; design by LeeAnn Falciani (Picador / April 2014)

Hurt_Healer_CG3
Hurt Healer by Tony Nolan; design by Connie Gabbert (Baker / unused?)

simon4
In Translation edited by Sherry Simon; design by David Drummond (McGill-Queen’s University Press / unused?)

marriage-game-bookdesigners-unused
The Marriage Game by Alison Weir; design by The Book Designers (Ballantine / unused)

Metamorphosis
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; design by Jamie Keenan (W. W. Norton / February 2014)

missing-link
Missing Link by Jeffrey Donaldson; design by David Drummond (forthcoming)

9781846689895
The Moth introduced by Neil Gaiman; design by Dan Stiles (Serpent’s Tail / August 2014)

my-first-kafka
My First Kafka by Matthue Roth & Rohan Daniel Eason; design by Richard Rodriguez; cover illustration Rohan Daniel Eason (One Peace Books / June 2013)

never-mind
Never Mind by Edward St. Aubyn; design by Stuart Wilson (Picador / April 2012)

original-sins
Original Sins by Peg Kingman; design by Darren Haggar (W. W. Norton / September 2010)

perdido-crush-creative
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville; design by Crush Creative (Pan Books / May 2011)

possession
Possession by A. S. Byatt; design Vintage Design (Vintage / December 2009)

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The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida; design by Kai & Sunny (Sceptre / July 2013)


Royauté by Alexie Morin design by Catherine D’Amours / Pointbarre (Le Quartanier / October 2013)

shining-girls-keith-hayes
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes; design by Keith Hayes (Mulholland Books / June 2013)

Swallow
Swallow by Theanna Bischoff; design by Natalie Olsen / Kisscut Design (NeWest Press / February 2013)

Poe GOTHIC SERIES Holly MacDonald
Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe; Holly MacDonald (Bloomsbury / October 2009)

9781429988834
Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life by James Hawes; Design and lettering by Steve Snider; Illustration by Douglas Smith (St. Martin’s Press / July 2008)

October 7, 2014
by Dan
12 Comments

Birds

birds

Book designers, bless them, really do like to put a bird on it. Following on from wild beasts and reptiles and amphibians, here is my latest post looking at animals on book covers, ‘Birds’:

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Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer; design by Charlotte Strick; Illustration by Eric Nyquist (FSG / September 2014)

because-i-love-you
Because I Love you by Barbara Toner; design by Sandy Cull / gogoGingko (Allen & Unwin / November 2012)

978-0-385-66048-8
The Bedside Book of Birds by Graeme Gibson; design by Scott Richardson (Random House / October 2005)

Bird_Catcher
The Bird Catcher by Laura Jacobs; design by LeeAnn Falciani (Picador / September 2010)

birds-without-wings
Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières; design by Matt Broughton (Vintage / April 2014)

black-swan
Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb; design by David Mann (Allen Lane / May 2007)

box-of-birds
A Box of Birds by Charles Fernyhough; design by Dan Mogford (Unbound / May 2013)

cartwheel_8_2_lc_long_quote
Cartwheel by Jennifer duBois; design by Lynn Buckley (Random House / September 2013)

ECW-Civil-Hi_res
Civil and Civic by Jonathan Bennett; design by David Gee (ECW / April 2011)

come-late-mohr
Come Late to the Love of Birds by Sandra Kasturi; design by Erik Mohr (Tightrope Books)

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The Coincidence Authority by J. W. Ironmonger; design by Nathan Burton (Weidenfeld & Nicolson / September 2013)

crows-vow
The Crow’s Vow by Susan Briscoe; design by David Drummond (Vehicule Press / April 2011)

9780226157719
Darwin’s Finches edited by Kathleen Donohue; design by Matt Avery (University of Chicago Press / June 2011)

DonÔÇÖt Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something
Don’t Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something by Paul Vermeersch; design by Natalie Olsen / Kisscut Design (ECW Press /  October 2014)

dulwich
The Dunwich Horror by H. P. Lovecraft; design by Coralie Bickford-Smith (Penguin Classics / October 2008)

early-bird
Early Bird by Rodney Rothman; design by Paul Sahre (Simon & Schuster / April 2005)

grimm
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman; design by Alison Forner (Penguin / November 2012)

978-0-7710-8429-41
Floating Like the Dead by Yasuko Thanh; design by Terri Nimmo (McClelland & Stewart / April 2012 )

F+G
Florence & Giles by John Harding; design by Jo Walker (Blue Door / March 2010)

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Freedom by Jonathan Franzen; design by Charlotte Strick (FSG / December 2010)

Nicholls_revision_rgb
The Galapagos by Henry Nicholls; design by Nicole Caputo (Basic Books / August 2014)

goldfinch
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; design by Keith Hayes (Little, Brown & Co. / October 2013)

GRAPESOFWRATH_FINAL7
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck; illustration by Kathryn McNaughton (Penguin / October 2011)


H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald; cover art by Christopher Wormell (Jonathan Cape / July 2014)

Grunt of the Minotaur emmanuel polanco
Grunt of the Minotaur by Robin Richardson; design by Emmanuel Polanco (Insomniac Press / October 2011)

Amanda Lindhout
A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett; design by Jennifer Heuer (Scribner / September 2013)

hunger-david-high
Hunger by Lan Samantha Chang; design by David High (W. W. Norton / September 2009)

Jenny & the Jaws of Life_JWillett
Jenny and the Jaws of Life by Jincy Willett; design by Henry Sene Yee (Picador / June 2008)

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Kansas City Lightning by Stanley Crouch; design by Milan Bozic (HarperCollins / March 2014)

wilbur1
Klauw van de valk by Wilbur Smith; design by Mark Ecob (Xander Uitgervers / unused)

love-hunger
Love & Hunger by Charlotte Wood; design by Sandy Cull /gogoGingko (Allen & Unwin / May 2012)

marabou-stork
The Marabou Stork Nightmares by Irvine Welsh; design by Matt Broughton (Vintage / January 2009)

Marrowbone-Marble-Allison-Saltzman
The Marrowbone Marble Company by Glenn Taylor; design by Allison Saltzman (Ecco / May 2010)

MORALITY
Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith; design by Mark Ecob (Abacus / December 2003)

meditations
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius; design by Emily Mahon; illustration by Yucel (Modern Library / August 2003)

midwich-cuckoos
The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham; illustration by Brian Cronin (Penguin / August 2008)

mind-of-a-thief
The Mind of a Thief by Patti Miller; design by Sandy Cull / gogoGingko; illustration by Cherie Strong (University of Queensland Press / October 2013)

mink-river
Mink River by Brian Doyle; design by David Drummond (Oregon State University Press / October 2010)

montress-forner
Monstress by Lysley Tenorio; design by Alison Forner (Ecco / January 2012)

naming-nature
Naming Nature by Carol Kaesuk Yoon; design by Chin-Yee Lai (W. W. Norton / August 2009)

never-ending birds
Never-Ending Birds by David Baker; design by Lynn Buckley; jacket illustration: Swallows by Audubon, The Granger Collection (W. W. Norton / October 2009)

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News from the World by Paula Fox; design by Roberto De Vicq de Cumptich (W. W. Norton / May 2011)

originofspecies
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin; design by Emily Mahon; illustration by Eleanor Grosch (Modern Library / August 1998)

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Pigeon by Karen Solie; design by Bill Douglas (House of Anansi / June 2009)

Pigeon_English_shortlist_rgb
Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman; design by Holly MacDonald (Bloomsbury / July 2011)

romeo-spikes-sergio
Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay; design by Chris Sergio ( Gallery Books / August 2012)

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Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger; design by Sara Corbett; illustration Audrey Niffenegger (Harry N. Abrams / May 2013)

silent-land-mahon
Silent Land by Graham Joyce; design by Emily Mahon (Doubleday / March 2011)

solo
Solo by Rana Dasgupta; design by Heads of State (Houghton Mifflin / February 2011)

Sweet-Bird
Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams; design by John Gall (New Directions / June 2010)

elegies-kosovo
3 Elegies for Kosovo by Ismail Kadare; design by Matt Broughton (Vintage / May 2011)

to-see-every-bird
To See Every Bird on Earth by Dan Koeppel; illustration by Mike Langman (Michael Joseph / August 2005) 1

summer-bird-jason-holley
Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull; illustration by Jason Holley (Dutton / October 2012)


The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert; design by Alex Merto (Riverhead / February 2014)


Treachery by S. J. Parris; design by Alexandra Allden, illustration by Daren Newman (Harper / August 2014)

9781555976378-glyder
The Virtues of Poetry by James Longenbach; design by Kimberly Glyder (Graywolf / March 2013)

vulture
The Vulture by Gil Scott-Heron; design by Stuart Bache (Canongate / July 2010)

why-is-my-mother
Why is my Mother Getting a Tattoo? by Jancee Dunn; design by Catherine Casalino (Villard Books / June 2009)

whiskey-tango-charles-brock-faceout
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer; design by Charles Brock / Faceout Studios (Mulholland Books / August 2014)

ngugi_wizard_mendelsund
Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o; design by Peter Mendelsund (Pantheon / August 2006)

October 7, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Paul Sahre at New Directions

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“I started out doing posters for the theater. It’s almost the same thing as a book cover: the promise of an experience. It has to show you what you’re in for, without spelling it out.”

Designer Paul Sahre discusses his work with Mieke Chew for the New Directions blog:

I have a ridiculous one-of-a-kind book collection, which has a lot of fantastic reference material: books on how to make balsa wood airplanes, to encyclopedias of infectious rashes from the Vietnam War era. You never know what you’re going to find. Sometimes while you’re reading a book you just start looking at things. If you’re stumped, that’s one way to do it. I used to need to “make it happen” more. I’d go to the library and pull books off the shelves randomly without looking, and then I’d just look. It could be a book on the geography of the great lakes and there’s something in there visually that makes you go, “Oh yeah! I can use this.” So much design research now is Google image searches. I never go there for material because that’s where everyone else is going.

October 2, 2014
by Dan
8 Comments

Book Covers of Note October 2014

It’s October and the fall book season is in full swing. It’s kind of bonkers in the trade from now until Christmas, so this is the second to last (if not the actual last) cover round-up for 2014. I think I can probably squeeze in one more next month, but then we will be well into ‘covers of the year’ territory so we’ll have to see. I also have more posts in the Beasts! series (and goodness know what else) to fit in somehow! While I figure that out, however, here is this month’s collection of notable book covers…

Lerner 1004
10:04 by Ben Lerner; design by Scott Richardson (McClelland & Stewart / September 2014)

puny-sorrows
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews; design by Helen Crawford-White / Studio Helen (Faber & Faber / June 2014)

Book of Strange New Things
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber; art direction and design Rafi Romaya;  illustration Yehrin Tong (Canongate / October 2014)

9781472116666
The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell; design by Leo Nickolls (Constable / October 2014 )

broken-monsters-keith-hayes
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes; design by Keith Hayes (Mulholland Books / September 2014)

charming-billy
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott; design by Henry Sene Yee; illustration by Bill Mudron  (Picador / October 2014)

flings-oliver-munday
Flings by Justin Taylor; design by Oliver Munday (Harper / August 2014)

I-Am-China
I Am China by Xiaolu Guo; design Emily Mahon; photograph Masha Sardari (Nan A. Talese / September 2014)

fields-of-blood
Fields of Blood by Karen Armstrong; design by Oliver Munday (Knopf / October 2014)

intervals-in-cinema
The Intervals of Cinema by Jacques Rancière; design by Jessica Svendsen (Verso / October 2014)

Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère; design by Yang Kim and Tyler Comrie (FSG / October 2014)
Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère; design by Yang Kim and Tyler Comrie (FSG / October 2014)

Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère; design by Richard Green (Allen Lane / September 2014)
Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère; design by Richard Green (Allen Lane / September 2014)

a-man-lies-summer
A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar; design by Ben Summers (Hodder / October 2014)

mr-gwyn
Mr. Gwyn by Alessandro Baricco; design by Sunra Thompson (McSweeney’s / July 2014)

9781846140273-isabelle-de-cat
Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts; design by Isabelle De Cat (Penguin / October 2014)

annotated-lovecraft
The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft edited by Leslie S. Klinger; design by gray318 (W. W. Norton / October 2014)

notre-duplex
Notre Duplex by Éléonore Létourneau; design by David Drummond (Éditions XYZ / August 2014)

not-that
Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham; design by CHIPS (Random House / September 2014)


Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail; design by Matt Roeser (Candlewick / October 2014)

radio-benjamin
Radio Benjamin edited by Lecia Rosenthal; design by Isaac Tobin (Verso / October 2014)

specter-of-capital
Specter of Capital by Joseph Vogl; design by Anne Jordan (Stamford University Press / October 2014)

white-van
The White Van by Patrick Hoffman; design by Walter Green (Grove Atlantic / September 2014)

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