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Posts Tagged ‘book design’

Tolstoy’s Insufficient Firmness, and Other News

January 16, 2015 | by

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Tolstoy in 1851, when he just couldn’t seem to do a single damn thing right.

  • Here’s a self-effacing diary entry from March 1851 in which Tolstoy chronicles his flaws, hour by hour—part of a larger project in which he evaluates his own ethics. How many of these peccadilloes have you committed today? “Koloshin (Sergei) came to drink vodka, I did not escort him out (cowardice). At Ozerov’s argued about nothing (habit of arguing) and did not talk about what I should have talked about (cowardice). Did not go to Beklemishev’s (weakness of energy). During gymnastics did not walk the rope (cowardice), and did not do one thing because it hurt (sissiness).—At Gorchakov’s lied (lying). Went to the Novotroitsk tavern (lack of fierté). At home did not study English (insufficient firmness).”
  • Atticus Lish’s Preparation for the Next Life has become an unlikely hit for its publisher, Tyrant Books—but success can come with its own problems. “When the Times review appeared, Ms. Urban [Lish’s agent] asked Mr. DiTrapano [his publisher] how many books were in print. ‘He said 3,500,’ Ms. Urban recalled. ‘I wanted to kill myself.’ ”
  • Art critics—prepare to give notice by the dozens. Now there’s Novice Art Blogger, an algorithm that reviews art and is not altogether terrible at it. “The bot is simply articulating what it interprets; there is something very noble about that, that it is not passing judgment.”
  • Is science fiction our new religion? “We gather in our millions in the darkened cathedrals of multiplex cinemas to silently venerate our superhero gods. All religions have their holy stories, and the immense respect given to SF novels like 1984 and I, Robot by their fans is very close to an act of faith … Let’s not think about L Ron Hubbard.”
  • Paperbacks give publishers a second chance to find an eye-catching cover design, but the results are often confounding. “After spending so much time, effort and money on getting the dust jacket just right, most publishers go back to the drawing board to design the paperback version. That always seems to me like a waste of hard-won brand awareness, but I’m told most books don’t sell well enough to establish any brand awareness.”

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Malamud Lookin’ Good, and Other News

April 28, 2014 | by

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Charlotte Strick’s new designs for the Bernard Malamud centenary. Image via FSG Work in Progress

  • Here’s our Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, on the art of preservation—not in the sense of manly survivalism but in the sense of making jam. His essay was recently nominated for a James Beard Award.
  • And here’s Charlotte Strick, our art editor, interviewed about her sharp new designs for the Bernard Malamud centenary.
  • While we’re at it, Daily contributor Caleb Crain has asked, “how much gay sex should a novel have?” (“The half answer, half protest that immediately springs to mind is, It depends. Many are the conditions that it depends upon.”)
  • And Daily contributor Willie Osterweil found that today’s sports movies have comparatively few feats of athleticism in them. “There’s a new breed of sports movie in town, one that does away with all that pesky team-building and ersatz democracy. These films celebrate the real heroes of sports, the real heroes of any workplace: the bosses.”
  • The lost art of memorizing poetry: “Many of today’s prominent poets seem to be writing poems that actively resist memorization. Take John Ashbery, for example … As I walked uphill, repeating Ashbery’s lines to myself, I found them as slippery as an eel.”
  • Why do we tend to place painful episodes in parentheses? A variety of literature has “windows in a wall of verse or prose that suddenly open on an expanse of personal pain. Masquerading as mere asides, they might hold more punch than parentheses are usually expected to hold, more even than the surrounding sentences, and have all the more impact for their disguise as throwaways.”

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Finnegans Wake, Spell-checked, and Other News

July 18, 2013 | by

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Psychos, Pencils, and Fines

August 8, 2012 | by

  • This terrific German blog gives the pencil its due (and, perhaps, then some).
  • In a time when e-books outsell their paper counterparts, NPR wonders whether cover design is a dying art.
  • In a gesture of either great magnanimity or great desperation, the Chicago Public Library waives all fines.
  • Movies you may not have known were inspired by books. (In the case of Psycho, probably because Hitchcock tried to buy up all the copies so there’d be no “spoilers.”)
  • On the one hand, we take issue with some of the rankings on this list of the hundred greatest young-adult novels. On the other, it’s encouraging to know kids are voting. (At least, we hope that’s the explanation.)
  • In obligatory Fifty Shades of Grey news, author E. L. James is curating an album of the classical music featured in the trilogy. (For the uninitiated: in addition to being the world's youngest billionaire and most accomplished lover, Christian Grey is also a world-class musician.)
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    Owls, Hatred, and Blurbese

    May 23, 2012 | by

    Bad for owls

  • The lit-flick streak continues! The Palme d’Or is likely to go to one of several adaptations.
  • As Harry Potter mania fades, hundreds of pet owls are being abandoned across England.
  • How to open a new book.
  • Quiche Lorraine, the comic.
  • Need inspiration? Dial-a-poem!
  • Andrew Ladd decodes Blurbese for the nonreviewer.
  • When less is more: minimalist covers.
  • Cineastes! Help save an endangered film before it’s too late!
  • William Hazlitt, "On the Pleasure of Hating."
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    Charlotte Strick Talks to ‘The Atlantic’

    March 11, 2011 | by

    Our wonderful art editor Charlotte Strick took some time to talk to The Atlantic about her work as a graphic designer:

    What’s a design trend that you wish would go away?

    It’s not so much a design “trend”: the lack of quality in trade book publishing. Because of the rising costs of printing, many publishers are now using thinner paper stocks for book interiors. The paper feels cheap and there's more "show through" of the text from the previous page. Those of you who still enjoy holding a good old-fashioned book in your hands will know what I'm talking about. You really can feel the difference.

    What’s an idea you became fascinated with but that ended up taking you off track?

    Do ex-boyfriends count?

    I’d say so! Read the rest of Charlotte’s interview here.

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