Thursday, 10 October 2013

A Bite on the Bum of Consistency

In the past I've been aggrieved about autobiographies with pictures of the authors on them, and even more so about novels with pictures of the authors on them. But it can be done well: witness next year's Muriel Spark reissues from New Directions in the US. These beautifully fucked-up photos of Spark are nicely matched with the plots/themes of the books.

I'd like to see what they would do in this line with her The Girls of Slender Means, a wonderful novel set in a girls' lodging house in Blitz-haunted London, where an unexploded bomb on the property heightens all of the sexual tension to bizarre levels.

It's also a shame they haven't used any photos from Spark's later years, when she wore the world's most massive pair of glasses, but there's more backlist to be redesigned...

I have a number of Spark's books in old omnibus editions that also used her photos:

I also have most of these novels as individual books too--I usually try not to double up like that, but all of her books are so admirably short that they hardly take up any space at all. Or at least that's the argument I might try on my wife as I contemplate adding the new ND editions to my collection.


James Albon said...

Thinking of using authors appearances in books, have you seen the Argentinian illustrator Luis Scafati's illustrations for Metamorphosis? He's used Franz Kafka's face for Gregor Samsa, it's terrific.

Matt Keeley said...

Glad to see Spark getting reissues; some of these books (Territorial Rights in particular) have been out of print in the US for years.

I don't think I'll be double-dipping on any of these, but The Ballad of Peckham Rye does tempt me a little. Such a funny and scary novel.

ND still has the rights to The Girls of Slender Means as far as I know, so perhaps a redesign will be coming soon? One of her best books.

JRSM said...

James, Luis Scafati's was new to me--thank you, it's lovely.

Matt, glad to see more Slender Means love. My favourite of her works. And I haven't read Territorial Rights, so that one I can get with a clear conscience.

Rev'd '76 said...

I rather liked Moorcock as Colonel Pyat for that quartet of novels.

YMMV, naturally.