The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


Little Nemo meets David Lynch — Mark Medley interviews Charles Burns, author of Black Hole and X’ed Out , for The National Post:

Whereas Black Hole, which takes place in the early 1970s, examines the dread and confusion of adolescence using the tropes of a horror film, X’ed Out, which is set in the late 1970s at the height of punk music, is an exploration of young adulthood and the anger, uncertainty and experimentation that comes with aging.

“I definitely started out wanting to do my punk story,” says Burns, 55. “As typically happens, you start with one idea and it spreads.”

A House Full of BooksThe LA Times book critic David L. Ulin on the gift of books:

We have a rule in our house: My wife and I will always pony up for books. It’s not even a subject of discussion — if either of our kids wants a book, we will buy it, no questions asked. This is equally true of the books we have at home, which are equally available to everyone, regardless of subject matter or degree of difficulty. Whatever else they are, after all, books are gifts (for the mind, the eye, the hand), which makes it downright uncharitable to deny them to anyone.

This, I should say, is how I was raised too, in a house full of books, by parents who put a premium on the written word. I was allowed to pick up everything — and often did. When I was in third grade, I checked out “War and Peace” from the school library (I was looking for the longest book in the world), and although I never actually opened it, I remain thrilled by the idea that no one told me not to try.

Don’t Know What They’re MissingThe Economist profiles type designer Matthew Carter:

Mr Carter doesn’t own an iPad, Kindle, or other reading device, as he is waiting for them to mature. (He does own an iPhone.) He frets that, as things stand, reading devices and programs homogenise all the tangible aspects of a book, like size or shape, as well as font. They are also poor at hyphenation and justification: breaking words at lexically appropriate locations, and varying the spacing between letters and between words. This may sound recondite but it is a visual imprint of principles established over the entire written history of a language. “Maybe people who grow up reading online, where every book is identical, don’t know what they’re missing.”

On a sort of related note… Mashable talks to designer Susan Kare about her icon designs for the original Apple Macs.

And finally (as we’re talking about typography)…

Jean-Luc — A free display typeface in two styles designed by Atelier Carvalho Bernau to celebrate Jean-Luc Godard’s 80th birthday.

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