Sunday, 30 October 2011

Me, Elsewhere, Rabbiting On

Today is Halloween, a celebration that goes mostly ignored here in Australia. People tend to divide into 3 groups here:
      1. Those who ignore it
      2. Random kids who go trick-or-treating, and are mostly disappointed because those in group 1 have no treats to hand over.
      3. Those who go into splenetic rants about American cultural imperialism whenever it's mentioned.

In any case, over at The Second Pass, I'm one of a number of persons talking about great scary short stories; to my delight, I find myself in the company of John Crowley, one of my favourite writers. Hot-diggetty, as the cool kids say. The story I chose is from the John Wyndham oddity, The Outward Urge.

If I hadn't, mistakenly, been convinced someone else would choose it, I might also have gone for Guy de Maupassant's 'The Horla': go here for details, online texts thereof, and even a Peter Lorre-starring radio play version.

Or go here and here for my ludicrously extensive John Wyndham covers posts.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Most Popular Fence in Literature

There's a man who always lurks by the same fence in the same pose, every day, always the same... except that sometimes he changes his hat.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


I just readAnna Funder's most excellent Stasiland, only 9 years after everybody else. But for the life of me I cannot make sense of the cover of the Australian (and first) edition. The book is about life under the all-encompassing surveillance of the East German secret police and their vast network of informers. The cover is a cold-looking woman wearing a glittery top. I don't know what it is meant to represent, and it's really bugging me. Does anyone have any ideas?

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


Am I alone in finding this poll on Random House Australia's website both ludicrous and infuriating in multiple ways?

And here's another ludicrous attempt to cash in on the classics, via the use of RANDOM CLASSIC PAINTED NUDE WOMEN on unrelated book covers, from "Vexin Classics".

The Monster's complaints of being ugly and unloved were strangely unconvincing

The musketeers were Athos, Porthos and Miss July

Elizabeth went to unexpected lengths to get Fitzwilliam Darcy's attention
Hucks's biggest adventure involved some surgery and hormone injections

"Just shut up and dance, Friday!"

There were more titles in this series, with similarly misleading covers (including some designed to appeal to the ladies), though they seem to have been deleted from sale. I can't imagine why...

Monday, 17 October 2011

Romantic Fabers

Having recently not liked a set of Faber reissues, it's pleasing to be able to commend F&F for a different set of books: collections of selected poems by the great Romantics, with beautiful woodcut-style covers and endpapers designed by various contemporary artists. I'm not sure which artists are responsible for which boioks, but the whole project was directed by Faber senior designer Miriam Rosenbloom.

Some of these images pinched from Design Sponge, where I first came across these covers.


Monday, 10 October 2011

White China

With china being the traditional 20th anniversary gift, British publishers Orion have decided to commemorate their two decades next year by commissioning sculptor Ben Twiston-Davies to create new sculptures representing 20 of their books; sculptures which have then been carefully photographed against white backgrounds and given minimalist text treatments. The results are quite lovely, as I hope you can see from the 10 covers I've scrounged together show.

I just wish that some of the books themselves were more deserving of this beautiful treatment. Orion may claim that "Award-winning, ground-breaking, genre-defining, blockbusting, [...] they’re the very best in publishing," but the likes of Dave Pelzer should be kept out of print, not celebrated. And the Horrid Henry cover looks unfortunately like this Tutis classic...

If Henry's doing what I think he's doing, then he really is horrid.


Another forthcoming (April 2012, supposedly) hardback Penguin Classic is the "restored" Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. I don't know who is responsible, but I really like the cover.

It's also striking because it really stands out from the books many previous covers, almost all of which are quite boring, and not at all representative of the book's wilfully obscurantist playfulness. For the most part they tend to be either plain text, or to just have a picture of Joyce stuck on there.