The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany September 16th, 2009


Rejected Covers by Klas Ernflo — Typography to make you weep (with either joy or envy). (via ISO50)

Poet of Desolate Landscapes — Author Jonathan Lethem on J.G. Ballard in the New York Times:

[V]ery few writers I’ve encountered, even those I’ve devoted myself to, have burrowed so deeply in my outlook, and in my work, where I find myself recapitulating Ballardian patterns not for their beauty (though they are beautiful) but for their tremendous aptness in attempting to confront the dying world before me, and inside me.

Ira Glass on the Internet and Public Radio — The host of NPR’s This American Life talks to Jesse Brown for a TVO Search Engine podcast (is it just me, or is there something gently life affirming about the fact Ira Glass doesn’t know who Chris Anderson is?)

“Well, it’s still more fun than a lot of other jobs” — Over at The Barnes & Noble Review, Daniel Menaker, author and former Executive Editor-in-Chief of Random House and fiction editor of The New Yorker, discusses — with bracing candour I might add — publishing and the role of book editors (don’t read if you are even slightly depressed):

[T]he tectonically opposing demands on publishing — that it simultaneously make money and serve the tradition of literature — and its highly unpredictable outcomes and its prominence in the attention of the media have made it a kind of poster adult for capitalism and the arts in crisis.

All awfully close to bone, and yet somehow Menaker also misses something vital about publishing and the opportunities that are arising…

Slovakian Book Covers — More amazing stuff from the genius A Journey Round My Skull (above: Binding illustration for Moji přátelé milionáři by Bernt Engelmann, 1968)

No-Man’s Land — A little late to the party, but over at  The Atlantic, technology journalist Kevin Maney looks at why the future might not be so bright for the Kindle (and he doesn’t even mention the iPhone):

Life, it turns out, is a series of tradeoffs between great experience and high convenience... Most successful products and services aim for one or the other, but not both. Products and services that offer neither tend to fail.

That’s why, despite all the great press it’s gotten,’s Kindle may be in trouble: in aiming to provide both a great experience and supreme convenience, it has achieved neither.

And lastly…

Words on Film — Designer Ed Cornish discusses his fantastic, but unused, cover designs for the 2009 D&AD student award brief for typography (sponsored by Faber and Faber) at FaceOut Books (because I haven’t linked to FaceOut for about 5 minutes right?).

1968, binding illustration for Moji přátelé milionáři by Bernt Engelmann

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