Monday, 20 July 2009

5 More Books I Recently Bought Because of Their Covers

Justin Evans: A Good and Happy Child
I saw this cover on a book review blog which I have since lost, but the book stayed with me. Designed by Erin Schell, it makes use of artwork by Mexican artist and engraver José Guadalupe Posada. The paperback I bought also has decorated inner covers:

The book itself is excellent: a creepy and very well-written tale of a lonely child who is demonically possessed by a new Friend.

Percival Everett: I Am Not Sidney Poitier
I first saw this here. Designed by Kapo Ng of the A-Men Project, it's bold and eye-catching and simple and clever. Then, when I saw who the book was by, I had to have it. Everett is a wonderful and grossly underrated and under-read novelist. Try his Wounded or Cutting Lisa or Suder or Watershed to see what I mean. This book is deeply odd, but thoroughly enjoyable. A man christened Not Sidney Poitier by a mad mother ends up semi-adopted by media mogul Ted Turner, and that's in the first dozen pages. It gets steadily weirder from there, without ever sacrificing the reader's interest or involvement. Even the extended dream sequences (which are almost self-contained short stories) didn't throw me, and I'm a firm believer in Henry James's dictum, "Tell a dream, lose a reader."

Bohumil Hrabal: Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age
Haven't received this one yet, so I have no designer details, but it's the cover that swayed me. I loved Hrabal's Too Loud a Solitude, but was distinctly underwhelmed by I Served the King of England.

Chester Himes: The Big Gold Dream and All Shot Up
I saw these at the Casual Optimist, who linked to this in-depth interview with designer Michael Fusco. Having always wanted to read me some Himes--one of the crime writer greats, famous for his Harlem detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones--I'd ordered these within two minutes. Fusco has deliberately echoed old paperback design on these books, to the point of giving them spines scanned from knackered old pulp editions...

..and the choice of cover images is great. The first photo is by Bruce Davidson, while the second is by Thomas Hoepker. Both of those linked-to galleries are full of amazing photos.


Mark Kaufman said...

I am sure you hear this all the time;

Great site! I happily stumbled upon it today. Can't wait to plow through it.


John Self said...

Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age is the one that can be summed up in the high-concept pitch a one-hundred page sentence. I read it some years ago in the Harvill edition, but can't remember a thing about it.

Agree that Too Loud a Solitude is magnificent, and like you I didn't get much out of I Served the King of England. I do have Closely Observed Trains awaiting me on my shelves, so may tackle it before I pick up the new Vintage Classics editions.

JRSM said...

Mark: Thank you--I can always stand to hear that.

John: The 100-page sentence rings a vague bell as something I might even have read when I was in uni... I was always sneery when younger about my parents not being able to remember whether they had read a book or not. Is this the first sign of me going the same way? Aiiiieeeeee!

Rex Parker said...

I have the PBOs of both those Himes books, and yet I Covet the versions you have featured. Gorgeous.

JRSM said...

They are nice--but Michael Fusco himself actually wanted to use the original PBO artwork, until Pegasus, the new publisher, overruled him.