The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


The Good, The Bad…design:related‘s Karen Horton (also Art Director at Little, Brown and Co.) interviews Paul Buckley, Creative Director of Penguin US, about his new book Penguin 75: Designers, Authors, Commentary (The Good, The Bad…):

Everyone was asked to keep their comments to 100 words or less, and though there are a few exceptions that I let run long, my own included, most contributors stuck to my request. As to the sarcasm, there are plenty of good natured jabs throughout the book as I was very clear with the participants that this was a true opportunity to let it all out – if you hate your cover, please by all means tell us about it; that is the point of this book.

You can read my interview with Paul from September last year here, and I’m hoping to chat with him and designer Christopher Brand about Penguin 75 soon. Fingers crossed.

Rewound and Remixed — Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder and C, interviewed in The Times:

If McCarthy… presents a radically fresh prospect for the future of the novel, it is probably, paradoxically, because he has instinctively ignored contemporary literature almost completely. He would argue, in fact, that it is only by immersing oneself in all that has gone before that any contemporary novelist has even the faintest chance of coming up with something new. “I don’t think most writers, most commercial middlebrow writers, are doing that,” he says. “I think they’ve become too aligned with mainstream media culture and its underlying aesthetic of ‘self-expression’. I see what I’m doing as simply plugging literature into other literature. For me, that’s what literature’s always done. If Shakespeare finds a good speech in an older version of Macbeth or Pliny, he just rips it and mixes it.”

See also: My Q & A with Peter Mendelsund and Tom McCarthy about the cover design of C.

Paywalls vs. Potential — Clay Shirky interviewed in The Guardian. This has been much linked to elsewhere because of Shirky’s comments about the online “paywall” at the aforementioned The Times, but I actually Michael Wolff’s Vanity Fair article on Rupert Murdoch from October last year is more interesting on this point. See also: John Gapper’s op-ed “Murdoch must become an elitist” in the Financial Times (registration required).

Necessary Agent — Jofie Ferrari-Adler, senior editor at Grove/Atlantic, on literary agents and their relationship with book editors in Poets & Writers Magazine. It’s an interesting article, although — just for the record — not everything that goes pear-shaped in the publishing process is the fault of the Sales & Marketing department…

And finally…

Cats Without Dogs — At some point I will shut up about Jason… Until then, you might be interested to know he has just started a blog…

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