Monday, August 18, 2014

Seeing the Sites

• East meets West in Pulp International’s gallery of Asia-themed paperbacks, featuring 23 examples of the breed. “Much of the fiction here is offensive on some level,” the blog remarks, “but then quite a bit of the old literature falls into that category. The art, on the other hand, is somewhat easier to look at dispassionately.” I’d seen most of these fronts before, with the notable exception of Kill Me in Atami (1962), one in a series of “travelogue and sexcapade book[s] disguised as … private eye novel[s],” penned by Earl Norman during the 1950s and ’60s. (The first book was Kill Me in Tokyo.) I can’t seem to locate any information online about the artist responsible for Kill Me in Atami’s cover, but I appreciate the work’s juxtaposition of beauty, delicacy … and “sudden death.”

• Are these five book covers really the worst ever? I agree that the Wuthering Heights front is pretty darn bad, but the lurid 1950s cover of George Orwell’s 1984 (evidently highlighting the tale’s “Anti-Sex League,” and intended to draw readers who might not otherwise have looked twice at this dystopian yarn) is neither the handsomest nor the ugliest face that novel has ever worn. In fact, I rather like it. The Guardian’s Sian Cain could almost certainly have dug up some more atrocious examples of book façades, including this one.

• Unlikely to appear on anybody’s list of ugly paperbacks are these four, with cover paintings by the great Harry Bennett.

• I am not a young-adult fiction reader, but if I were, I’d be happy to see these 20 book jackets awaiting me in bookstores. I am particularly fond of the skewed-perspective photographic front of Imaginary Girls, by Nova Ren Suma.

• And in Canada’s Globe and Mail, book-design blogger Dan Wagstaff (The Casual Optimist) writes about recent trends in cover art and picks a few of his favorite wrappers from the year so far. I’m pleased that he mentions Jamie Keenan’s design for The Metamorphosis--an edition I had to purchase for its creepy look.

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