Friday, 9 March 2012

Keenan Attacks Bolaño

The UK editions of Roberto Bolaño's have been a bit overshadowed by some of the extraordinary US cover designs, especially that for 2666 (see here). But for the latest posthumously discovered work by the strangely prolific Bolaño, Picador UK have got Keenan (last seen working wonders for Atticus Books here) to design a slipcased hardcover edition. As The Third Reich's main character is a German wargamer, Keenan has used a wargames theme for the whole package, to pleasing effect. (Click for much bigger versions.)

This speaks to my dubious past as a nerdy high school role-playing- and war-gamer: all those little plastic and metal figures rampaging through games of Warhammer, Axis and Allies, Risk, etc... That I should grow up to bang on about such an un-rock'n'roll subject like book design, and write a blog about such, should have comes as no surprise.

My only criticism of this package has nothing to do with the design: it's the second reviewer's quote on the back of the box that I find hilarious. The Sunday Times said, "Readers who have snacked on a writer such as Haruki Murakami will feast on Roberto Bolaño." Such a ludicrous comparison tells you nothing except that whoever wrote that review has presumably only ever read two authors in translation. I'll let you guess which ones.


jaylen watkins said...

Excellent post. wonderfully executed one.

Cover Letter Samples

Caroline said...

Readers who feast on Bolaño will devour JRSM.

Craig D. said...

I love it when cover blurbs compare the author to another. They're completely full of shit at least half the time.

JRSM said...

Caroline, I thank you!

Craig: you're very right--and this seemed more full of shit than most.

matthew. said...

I've stayed away from Bolano because I heard rumours of magical realism (which is not my cup of tea) and comparisons to Murakami. Are these rumours unfounded? Is Bolano a classic author or simply a burning trend?

JRSM said...

Matthew, I do think Bolano is worth your time. I've not read all his work, but nothing I have read of his has been at all "magically realistic". And I can honestly see no connection with Murakami's work, other than an ambition to tackle "big" ideas and books--something Bolano succeeds at, while Murakami fails dramatically. Despite its size, try '2666', which is really 5 linked novels and novellas, which amply demonstrate his different styles and concerns.