Monday, 2 November 2015

The Price of Teeth is... SIN!

An intriguing book due early next year is Chris Offutt's My Father, the Pornographer, in which he writes about the experience of having a father (Andrew J. Offutt) who--supposedly in order to pay the young Chris's orthodontic bills--turned enthusiastically to churning out great heaving piles of pornographic books. I'll review the book itself when it's published (something of an introduction can be found here), but I thought I'd take this opportunity to look at the marvellous cover design by hero-of-this-blog Jamie Keenan (about whom more posts here).

Touch it for a bigger version, as one of Offutt's protagonists mighthave said
In fact, the good-girl-art images used by Keenan here are astonishingly sweet and innocent compared to the depictions of women on Offutt's actual books, almost all published under various pseudonyms by various dodgy outfits.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Modiano in Monochrome

Now that a year has passed since Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize for Literature, there has been time enough for a number of his books to be resurrected in, or newly translated to, English. Given his previous neglect in this language, it's no surprise that the rights to his back catalogue were scattered across a number of different publishers.

What's interesting is the uniformity of cover design, despite these books being put out by very different firms. Basically, everyone seems to have decided that for Modiano, moody monochrome photos are the way to go.

From Bloomsbury UK:

From the Margellos World Republic of Letters series, and from Verba Mundi (both of whom were commendably publishing Modiano before the Nobel win):

From New York Review Books (forthcoming next year):

From Bloomsbury US:

Even the publishers who did things a little differently still made use of monochrome illustrations (plus spots of reds, blues and purples) in a way that maintains the same atmosphere as the other covers above.

Text Publishing:

MacLehose Press:

And, perhaps the most distinct, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Now that's odd

I was looking at the covers of the Chinese- and Spanish-language Penguin Classics for an upcoming post comparing how these books are presented for different audiences by the same publisher, when I noticed something odd. I'm not saying anything fishy happened here--Penguin are big and conscientious enough to pay for their cover art--bit it was quite strange to see this specially designed cover, by Hannah Naughton, for the excellent And Other Stories translation of Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel's By Night the Mountain Burns...

..turn up repurposed for the Spanish Penguin Classics edition of The Iliad.

You get used to seeing this sort of thing with famous or public domain artwork, but this is the first time I think I've come across a specific book design being reused for an utterly unrelated book.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Crapping Out Classics

A quick round-up of recent developments in the world of hideous public-domain publishing...

Item 1: This splendid edition of the Bible from our old friends at Vexin Classics, which in no way confuses belief systems:

Item 2: Some delightful editions of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, the cover designs of which shows all the subtlety and wit we've come to expect from the cheaparse cash-in merchants who populate Amazon's sewage-choked ebook library:

That last version claims to be "illustrated" by Zooey Hawkins. And it is, if by "illustrated" you mean "Photoshop filter run hastily over stolen promotional images from the recent movie adaptation".

Item 3: Further Pride and Prejudice investigations lead us to the nameless outfit responsible for these delights...

If the covers are any guide, the images in these "Color Illustrated" books should be very helpful indeed.

Item 4: The next stage on this short tour of hell is the strange world of Ronn Says, an Indian writer who "writes about various genres, and believes in spreading his experiences through his books. But primarily his genre is full fledged Romantic Novels. He is much acclaimed for his books". And you can see why, when they look like this...

..but he also dabbles in publishing the classics, with stolen movie posters on the covers, with these results...

Jane "Stone Cold" Austin

(One good thing about all this copyright theft from movies is that it adds several more books to the Keira Knightley Library of World Literature.)

..though he sometimes steers away from movies in order to experiment with era-appropriate stock photos...

..which leads us finally to Item 5: Further anachronistic up-fucking of Stephen Crane's US Civil War classic...

"Special" as in "special education class", I assume

Antietam, Vietnam, it's all the fucking same, right?

The War Between the States and the Arctic Centurions

Napoleonic Hussars devastated large swathes of Atlanta