The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

October 19, 2014
by Dan
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Peter Mendelsund on Fresh Air

I think there are two primary jobs that a jacket has to do: It has to represent a text and it has to sell it. In a way, a book jacket … is sort of like a title that an … Continue reading

March 23, 2013
by Dan
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Something (Late) for the Weekend

Enjoy Your Cigarette — Tom Cox reviews Penguin’s Underground Lines boxed set for The Guardian: Underground Lines often matches its writers to its tracks very well, in terms of temperament as well as personal history. The Jubilee line, so often associated with … Continue reading

August 7, 2012
by Dan
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Chip Kidd on the Future of Book Covers

Billy Batson Chip Kidd, associate art director at publisher Alfred A. Knopf (as if you didn’t know), talks to NPR’s Weekend Edition about the future of book cover design: NPR WEEKEND EDITION: In the E-Book World, Are Book Covers a Dying Art?

October 7, 2011
by Dan
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MetaMaus | Talk of the Nation

At some point I will stop blogging interviews with Art Spiegelman, but I’m still enjoying listening to him talk about his career, so here he is answering questions about MetaMaus on NPR’s Talk of the Nation: “I wanted all the flaws to … Continue reading

September 6, 2011
by Dan
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Just My Type | Weekend Edition

A short interview with Simon Garfield author of Just My Type on NPR’s All in a Weekend: NPR Weekend Edition: Just My Type, Simon Garfield I love the story about a man who tried to go a day without Helvetica.

August 22, 2011
by Dan
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Devil Sent the Rain | Weekend Edition

Writer and music critic Tom Piazza discusses  his new collection of essays, Devil Sent the Rain: Music and Writing in Desperate America, on NPR’s Weekend Edition: NPR WEEKEND EDITION: Tom Piazza Devil Sent the Rain mp3 (via Largehearted Boy)

August 15, 2011
by Dan
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Grant Morrison | All Things Considered

Author and comics writer Grant Morrison talks about superheroes and his new book Supergods with NPR’s All Things Considered: NPR ALL THINGS CONSIDERED: Grant Morrison Supergods

August 2, 2011
by Dan
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George Pelecanos

Author George Pelecanos talks to NPR’s Morning Edition about race, class and setting all his novels in Washington, DC: NPR MORNING EDITION: Taking On Crime In A Racially Divided D.C. George Pelecanos’ new novel The Cut is released later this … Continue reading

June 23, 2011
by Dan
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Christoph Niemann | Fresh Air

Illustrator Christoph Niemann talks to Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross about his illustrations for The New Yorker, Newsweek and the New York Times Magazine, and his new kids book That’s How: I care so much about magazines and newspapers and books. This … Continue reading

June 17, 2011
by Dan
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J.J. Abrams | Fresh Air

One last miscellaneous post before the weekend… Filmmaker J.J. Abrams  talks about his new movie Super 8 and, perhaps most interestingly, his storytelling process with Terry Gross for NPR’s Fresh Air: In a movie like “The Graduate,” Ben and Elaine … Continue reading

May 25, 2011
by Dan
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Illustrating Influence

As part of a series of interviews on WNYC about Brooke Gladstone’s new book The Influencing Machine, illustrator Josh Neufeld talks about working on the project with Brian Lehrer: Also in this segment, Gladstone discusses science fiction and political bias … Continue reading

May 20, 2011
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

The New Museum — Steven Heller profiles Will Schofield, the man behind the awesome 50 Watts blog, for The Atlantic: For want of money, Schofield notes that he always bought cheap used copies and mass-market editions of the books he … Continue reading

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