The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend


The Guardian‘s obituary for graphic designer S. Neil Fujita, who died last month aged 89, and a slideshow of his work, which included album covers for artists Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis, and book covers for John Updike, Truman Capote, and Mario Puzo.

The New York Times obituary, which ran in October, is here.

And a 2007 Steven Heller interview with S. Neil Fujita for AIGA is here.

Dead AirMike Doherty talks to Tom McCarthy about his most recent novel C for the CBC:

While researching the project, McCarthy was struck by the fact that Guglielmo Marconi and Alexander Graham Bell, the inventors of the radio and telephone, respectively, had originally sought to contact the dead. McCarthy dreamed up a character whose sister dies in early age; working as a radio operator later in life, he finds coded messages everywhere around him, perhaps from his sibling. McCarthy viewed this story as a Trojan Horse into which he could “smuggle” his “philosophical and avant-garde preoccupations,” in a “conventional Dickensian trajectory from birth to death in a historical setting. I thought, This is a winner. Surely some f—er’s going to publish this one!'”

You can find my conversation with Tom and book designer Peter Mendelsund about C here.

Pass NotesMobyLives talks to John Williams founder of online literary journal The Second Pass:

I found after leaving publishing that I was reading a lot of older books, some classics and some that I had just happened upon foraging at the Strand and other places. I thought there was room online to treat reading the way a lot of big readers actually do it, which is not to simply go straight through all the new releases but to haphazardly combine some new books with some old ones, some very popular books with some that have been out of print for decades. Plus, I was hearing a lot of moaning about the fate of books coverage in the age of the dying newspaper, and I thought trying to do something about it would be much more fun than talking about it (and much, much more fun than listening to other people talk about it). And it has been.

It just so happens that I will be chatting with John soon as well… Fingers crossed.

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