A nice nod from over yonder at Readerville...

MOST COVETED COVERS

by D.G. Strong

As I’ve related before, one of the things that I look for in a jacket design is some sort of evidence that the designer is familiar with the text. Or in this case, the life. Peter Mendelsund, who knocked this one out between who knows how many other masterpieces, seems to have Le Corbusier in his blood because he gets all of this exactly right. Right down to the typeface used for the title, which appeared on Le C’s blueprints and what?—headstone, maybe? And all of those grids and divisions and golden rectangles and fiddledy bits and whatnot ... oh, it’s all so worked out it almost could have been lifeless. But it isn’t; it’s literally colorful, just like you hope any biography will turn out to be. Things repeat: the narrow photo strip at the top is echoed by that little white crosshatch on the right. And things are lined up: the diagonal of the black slant points right at his eye. It’s almost more architectural than it is graphic. You almost expect to find out that it’s based on a building plan. I’d certainly walk right in.

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A CHRISTMAS PRESENT I JUST RECEIVED, MADE BY THE GREAT FRENCH DESIGNER PAUL COX, GIVEN TO ME BY HIS SISTER-IN-LAW:

Which, on the face of it, is a sweet little diary. It's not until one looks inside...

that one's heart sinks a little...hilarious! It goes on like this through 2055.

ETHER

SOME PICS OF A 12" VINYL PROJECT I JUST COMPLETED FOR THE BAND ETHER...







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John Updike likes Albertus. A lot. He insists upon it. He mandates its use. He brooks no refusal and tolerates no substitutes. He is Albertus' fan-numero-uno. Albertus plus John Updike equals forever.

Here, on his latest book jacket, Carol Carson makes Albertus look...quite unexpectedly...great?! It is a remarkable feat of alchemical transmutation. How is this accomplished? Color has something to do with it- kerning, leading. Also contributing: good old-fashioned taste, and ever-cyclical Fashion itself; which insists that everything, even awkward, ungainly, dated Albertus, must eventually return to favor.

As Uppy himself has noted : "A good cover should be a bit recessive in its art, leading us past the cover into the book itself." I begrudgingly admit that he is on to something, though I would say the word "recessive" carries with it the taint of timidity. The art on display here from Carol is, rather, subtle. Despite the very components she's been given to work with, she has concocted something lovely indeed. Something that doesn't shout "design," but is, rather, an exemplary example of it.

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A generous gift- from a friend in Japan




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More from the home-shelves...


IT'S ALWAYS NICE TO DISCOVER AN ICONIC PIECE OF GRAPHIC DESIGN ON YOUR OWN BOOKSHELVES. Thanks to Helen Yentus (who reads Russian) and Jason Booher (who is a design-history buff) I learn that this little book of mine is the work of Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina, creators of some of the most well-known works of Russian Constructivism. I'd show you more, but the pages are uncut!


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MORE FROM THE HOME SHELVES:

"THRIFT"



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FROM MY HOME SHELVES:

COVER BY JEAN COCTEAU






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"...Cabbages the size of human heads,
and marrow—marrow is everywhere."


A great piece from Peter Terzian
on Martin Parr (part 1 of 3)


Welcome to Parr-World


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AND SPEAKING OF POMPEY...

"David James was left looking - and sounding - like a right plonker yesterday. The Portsmouth goalkeeper was forced to drive a Reliant Robin, after being voted the club's worst trainer. The Pompey stars who chipped in to buy the car even attached a loud speaker that plays animal noises once the engine is started up."

And why exactly, I ask myself, is this considered a punishment? A sweet ride. Via The Mirror



"DO YOU SPEAK POMPEY?"
Not Portsmouth FC, but the town of. Here's a map in which street names have been replaced by local idiomatic expressions...via Creative Review.


SOME NEW CLASSICS: FROM CORALIE BICKFORD-SMITH
AND THE EVER-BUSY RE-PACKAGERS
AT PENGUIN UK. CLOTH AND FOIL. VIA DESIGN SPONGE.




THEY DON'T MAKE RADIOS LIKE THEY USED TO
I know- at this point, we're all supposed to have moved on from the matter of David Foster Wallace. But the subject still haunts. I just read this Rolling Stone, well, biography I guess you'd call it. So sad, so sad. And I couldn't help a kind of half guffaw/half puke at the irony of an alchohol company sponsoring the piece online:



Here's a first edition of William Maxwell's (see the previous post) THE CHATEAU. Ain't it sweet? This particular copy belongs to the writer Peter Terzian,(editor of the forthcoming anthology HEAVY ROTATION)
who writes about Maxwell
HERE
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"I have liked remembering almost as much as I have liked living."



The incomparable William Maxwell. What a writer; what a mensch. I met him years ago, when I worked at Books & Co. He was classy, and kind (and doesn't this classiness and kindness come through in the prose?)


At lunch today, I learned, from designer Barbara DeWilde, that years ago, she had commissioned Jonathan Hoefler to design a typeface for Mr. Maxwell, for use in, and on, all of his books: "William Maxwell Roman." It made its first appearance on Maxwell's ALL THE DAYS AND NIGHTS. His very own face! How old-school is that? That a designer would even care enough to do such a thing! That a publisher would let her!

That the economy should be so flush!


And here it is!




Evidently, there was another prestigious Knopf author at that time (not naming names) who was deeply jealous that a typeface wasn't commissioned in his honor. Well sir, not everyone can be William Maxwell, can they?


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Ok, ok. I'm on a Shostakovich bender. But...I just sat down to play the first Prelude and Fugue, and was wondering, how could such a chromatic work, so clouded with dissonance, sound so...innocent? The answer is...
genius
.


Permit me to free-associate for a sec.
Mitya, down there in the last two posts,
got me thinking about Yuri Gagarin;

This is not a photo of Yuri Gagarin:



But how rad is Bob?
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AND SPEAKING OF D.SCH*
HERE
is a rare video of him performing the gangbusters cadenza and finale of his own first piano concerto.
and...OMG. He doesn't even break a sweat.
(I don't recognize the conductor (Evgeny Svetlanov?))


*

"THE LIMIT OF LANGUAGE IS SHOWN BY ITS BEING IMPOSSIBLE TO DESCRIBE THE FACT WHICH CORRESPONDS TO A SENTENCE WITHOUT SIMPLY REPEATING THE SENTENCE."

I cam across this passage yesterday in Wittgenstein's CULTURE AND VALUE- and immediately, superficially, thought it to be a less than accurate statement- though upon reflection (and certainly taken in the context of W.'s work), it is a bracingly profound thought.
I thought I'd share it.


MY WORD, BUT THIS PERSON'S WORK IS BEAUTIFUL...


(EVA HAN, COURTESY OF THE SERIF)

I saw Thomas Pynchon the other night.

I know I did, and there is really no sense in you trying to convince me otherwise.

Here's what went down:

My wife and I were on our way to a dinner party on the UWS, and were enjoying a romantic stroll down Riverside Drive. It was late evening, and the embankment upon which we were walking was twilit and deserted.

I had been thinking about Pynchon a ton lately, having just heard, two weeks earlier, that Penguin had received a new manuscript from him (so soon?). Then, this week, the story went public concerning the new book, and this knowledge spurred me to revisit my favorite passages of Against The Day (which I love, along with pretty much everything else the man has written), and this re-reading, in turn, prompted me to re-examine those old photos of T.P. himself; photos we fans know so well. So, admittedly, he was on my mind. But look at it this way, I REALLY have looked at those photos- and, unless the man has had extensive plastic surgery, I would (or so I tell myself) recognize him anywhere. So...

Here comes, ambling up Riverside, the only other person within sight of us; a lone rangy fella in his late sixties or thereabouts, in a dark jacket, and...that face- THAT FACE! I mean, it just had to be. There's no way it wasn't.

So I turn to my wife and whisper "That was Thomas Pynchon" and she looks at me as she is wont to, with an expression that is equal parts long-suffering and vaguely amused- and we turn around simultaneously, and...there's no one there. Well, ok, I thought, I just imagined the entire affair- time to get me one of those rooms with the rubber walls.

But on second thought, it occurs to me, he might live in the middle of the block and might have just ducked into the lobby by the time we spun around. In any case, that was that. Until...

We walk a couple blocks further down to where the party is being hosted, and our coats are taken, and a drink is put in our hands, and we're chatting, and one drink leads to another, and before you know it the night is almost over. At some point there's a lull in the conversation, and the earlier event comes back to me, and I say (somewhat self-mockingly) "I just saw Thomas Pynchon" to which two people (of impeccable reputations, credentials) respond that they know Pynchon's realtor, and lo, "Pynchon lives two blocks up:" i.e. ON THE VERY BLOCK where we had walked passed him.

Seriously- it was him.

And, what's more- he knew that I knew. I know this too.

Hand to God. And don't let the expression on my wife's face dissuade you.

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(ARC refers to THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART, not, Advance Readers Edition)

SELINA SWAYNE
OK. I ADMIT IT. I'M A 



*"SOMEONE WHO CULTIVATES FEMALE SOCIETY, ESPECIALLY FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVANCEMENT"
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SOME "LITTLE ARCHITECTURAL MAGAZINES"
OF THE 60'S AND 70'S."



OLDER ENTRIES