The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

February 23, 2017
by Dan
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Alan Aldridge 1943-2017

British artist and designer Alan Aldridge died last week aged 73. In the words of designer Mike Dempsey, Aldridge “was a major influence on the British design and illustration scene in the 1960’s.” Although he is perhaps best known for … Continue reading

February 22, 2017
by Dan
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Dick Bruna 1927-2017

Dutch illustrator and designer Dick Bruna died last week, aged 89. Much of the coverage has focused on Miffy, the picture book rabbit he created in the 1950’s, but as The Guardian obituary notes, he was also well known as a book … Continue reading

February 16, 2017
by Dan
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Bookstores Embrace Protest

At the New York Times, Julie Bosman looks at how American bookstores have become hubs of resistance:  Political organizing is perhaps a natural extension of what bookstores have done for centuries: foster discussion, provide access to history and literature, host writers and intellectuals. “All … Continue reading

February 13, 2017
by Dan
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Book Covers of Note February 2017

A little later than usual — between one thing and the apocalypse — but there are some great covers out this month, including at least one contender for cover of the year: The Bear and the Serpent by Adrian Tschaikovsky; … Continue reading

February 10, 2017
by Dan
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The Martian Invasion of 1894

Tom Gauld for The Guardian. 

February 10, 2017
by Dan
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BOLES

Based on the short story “Her Lover” by Maksim Gorky, BOLES is short animated film by Špela Čadež about a writer with writer’s block and the woman who lives next door:

February 10, 2017
by Dan
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Bibliomania

At The Guardian, Lorraine Berry looks into the curious history of compulsive book buying: In the 19th century, book collecting became common among gentlemen, mostly in Britain, and grew into an obsession that one of its participants called “bibliomania”. Thomas Frognall … Continue reading

February 8, 2017
by Dan
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Fade to Black

Hilton Als on James Baldwin, movies, and Raoul Peck’s documentary I Am Not Your Negro, for The New Yorker: One has the sense, in the sections of “I Am Not Your Negro” that are devoted to Baldwin’s relationship to film, that Peck … Continue reading

February 7, 2017
by Dan
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Chris Ware on George Herriman and Krazy Kat

The New York Review of Books has an essay by cartoonist Chris Ware on George Herriman the creator Krazy Kat, one of the most beautiful, poetic and inventive comic strips ever created:     Krazy Kat has been described as a parable of love, … Continue reading

January 27, 2017
by Dan
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1984

The dystopia described in George Orwell’s nearly 70-year-old novel “1984” suddenly feels all too familiar. A world in which Big Brother (or maybe the National Security Agency) is always listening in, and high-tech devices can eavesdrop in people’s homes. (Hey, … Continue reading

January 19, 2017
by Dan
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Philip K. Dick’s Vision of Fascism in America

I have to confess that I haven’t seen the TV adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, but I found Aaron Bady’s discussion of the series — and how it differs from the book — at The New Yorker, quite … Continue reading

January 17, 2017
by Dan
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Irma Boom’s Library

The New York Times visits Dutch designer and bookmaker Irma Boom‘s new library of experimental books: Irma Boom pays careful attention to word choice. The Dutch designer, one of the world’s pre-eminent bookmakers, is loath to say “client” and refers to … Continue reading

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