The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


A bit late in the day on this, but the British edition of HHhH by Laurent Binet, designed James Paul Jones Senior Designer at Vintage Books, is quite something. The book was recently released in paperback in the UK.

And, if you’re curious, the North American edition designed by Rodrigo Corral looks like this:

The Language Policy — Further thoughts from Tim Parks on the role of editors, at the NYRB Blog:

As readers, it seems, we love to feel we are in direct, unmediated contact with an especially creative, possibly subversive mind and that we are getting all of its quirks and qualities unmediated and unmitigated by the obtusity of lesser folks perversely eager to return everything to the expected and mundane. This is no doubt why so little is said about editing even in the more learned papers, while nothing at all appears in the popular press, let alone at a promotional level. One cannot imagine, for example, a publisher launching an advertising campaign to boast that it has the most attentive copy editors in the business and can guarantee that everything you may read from its list has been properly purged of anything grammatically iffy, or foreign, or idiosyncratic.

Numbers — Rick Poyner on The Book of Numbers created by Herbert Spencer Spencer  in collaboration with his daughter, Mafalda:

The concept is simple enough. “We live in a world full of numbers: on houses and shops, on buses and motor cars, on magazines and packages, on stamps and labels, in fairgrounds and markets, on boats and aeroplanes, on road signs and posters,” write the Spencers. A series of photographs documents the occurrence of the numbers 1 to 100 going about their business somewhere out there in the world. Most numbers — seen on a showcard, a trash can, a hanging sign, a ceramic tile, a bus stop — receive their own images. In a few cases, such as house numbers and a set of maps, several consecutive numbers form a photogenic group within the same picture.

(It sounds fantastic).

And finally…

Colin Dickey on the haunted hotels of Los Angeles, at the Virginia Quarterly Review:

All hotels are haunted. It doesn’t matter which hotel; it’s already played host to a murder, an overdose, an accidental death with a story. You’re kidding yourself if you don’t see this, if you don’t recognize you sleep with ghosts. Every hotel staff has its stories, any cleaning woman or bellhop knows the score. In Wilkie Collins’ 1878 gothic novel The Haunted Hotel, an Italian villa is converted to a hotel shortly after it houses an unexplained, horrific tragedy. On opening night, a guest (“not a superstitious man”) takes Suite 14, and leaves hurriedly the following morning. The next night another couple take the suite; throughout the night the woman has horrifying dreams—awake, “afraid to trust herself again in bed,” she too makes excuses and leaves.

Assume, then, that every nightmare you’ve ever had in a hotel was a cry for help, some violence from the past reaching out to you.

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