The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

April 4, 2017
by Dan
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The Last London

The London Review of Books has a brilliant, sprawling, melancholy essay by author and psychogeographer Iain Sinclair titled ‘The Last London’. It’s difficult to know what to quote from the essay as it touches on so many interesting, diverse things, but this … Continue reading

March 26, 2015
by Dan
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Mad Men: The Shock of the Pretty

Another overdue link from my ‘longreads’ bookmarks, The Hollywood Reporter talks to the cast and crew of Mad Men about the early days of the show now that it is about to come an end: Christina Wayne (former senior vp scripted programming, … Continue reading

January 13, 2014
by Dan
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Saul Leiter: No Project, Only Pictures

I missed this when it was posted last month: Brian Dillon on New York photographer Saul Leiter, who died on November 26th, for the London Review of Books blog: Leiter used cheap film that gave his images a muted quality, … Continue reading

November 26, 2013
by Dan
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Julian Barnes on Lucian Freud

Julian Barnes reviews two recent books about the painter Lucian Freud — Man with a Blue Scarf by Martin Gayford and Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig — for The London Review of Books: Freud was always a painter of the Great Indoors. Even … Continue reading

September 18, 2013
by Dan
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Holy Sh*t, Batman

Colin Burrows reviews Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr for the London Review of Books: Really good swearing relies on formulaic elements, but needs to be precisely adapted to the moment. In this respect dear old Robin … Continue reading

November 2, 2009
by Dan
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Monday Miscellany, November 2nd, 2009

Unpublished concept jacket designs by London-based print designer Allan Sommerville for the Penguin’s Bill Bryson books (via Cosas Visuales). Fonts — This is AWESOME: Wisconsin Public Radio’s To The Best of Our Knowledge talk fonts with Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias … Continue reading

October 26, 2009
by Dan
3 Comments

Monday Miscellany, October 26th, 2009

The brilliant Helen Yentus has redesigned the covers of Chinua Achebe’s books for Anchor with illustrations and hand lettering by Edel Rodriguez who has some amazing sketches of her work on the series at her portfolio site.  (Covers first seen … Continue reading

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