The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend


A lovely new cover design by Dan Mogford for All Over the Map by Michael Sorkin (Verso Books).

In an epic two part interview for Bomb Magazine, George Saunders, author of Pastoralia, talks about writing with Patrick Dacey.

From part one:

[O]ne of the challenges of the writing life is to find new things to say and/or new ways to say them. And this is a paradox, because when you write your first book, you actually carve out a great deal of what you’ll end up working with for the rest of your life… [T]hat’s genuinely exciting. But then there’s the next 60 years to get through (!).

From part two:

Sometimes when I read new fiction, I feel that the writers of it, myself included, have a somewhat dysfunctional relationship with our own culture. I don’t mean we disapprove of it. I mean that we have absorbed so much habitual disapproval of it that we are no longer able to see it, and therefore are unable to disapprove of it properly. How can you disapprove (or approve) of something you no longer see? If your palette of possible modes of representation has been habitually narrowed and restricted (to the edgy, the snarky, the hip, etc., etc.), if that palette has been shorn of, say, the spiritual, the ineffable, the earnest, the mysterious—of awe, wonder, humility, the truly unanswerable questions—then there isn’t much hope of any real newness there.

Just as an aside, I love this cover for Pastoralia (I’m not sure who the designer is though. Anyone?):

Mom — A short interview with Gene Hackman in GQ. I’ve always been a fan of Hackman’s acting, what I didn’t realise is that he is also a novelist:

Yeah, they tell you not to write about your mom in books, but I don’t know how you keep from doing that.

Fantastic. Hackman’s most recent novel is Payback at Morning Creek.

And finally…

A gallery of vintage Irish book covers from the 1920’s to 1970’s curated by Niall McCormack, a graphic designer based in Dublin. Pictured above: Cuir Síos Air, Fallons. Cover design by Cor Klaasen. (Via The Donut Project).

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