Fiction Advocate Art Director and award winning designer Matt Tanner is featured this week in a New York Times slide show about the process of book jacket design. Matt talks through his process and the various iterations of a recent project, the first draft of which appears above. View the slideshow to see the final design.
As always, Matt’s work is incredible and thoughtful, and we’re just proud to know him. Check out more of his awesome work in the Fiction Advocate store, where you can pick up a whole slew of books featuring his excellent covers.
- Michael Moats
It’s commencement season again, so people are talking about David Foster Wallace and his address to the class of 2005 at Kenyon University, otherwise known as “This is Water.”
TheGlossary.com has created the best presentation of it you’re likely to ever see:
Watch it today, and it will brighten your time in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence.
- Michael Moats
And then there’s Kathryn Schulz at New York Magazine, who doesn’t think any Gatsbys are worth a damn:
…Gatsby is in a class by itself. It is the only book I have read so often despite failing—in the face of real effort and sincere intentions—to derive almost any pleasure at all from the experience.
Schulz finds The Great Gatsby to be “aesthetically overrated, psychologically vacant, and morally complacent,” and believes that “we kid ourselves about the lessons it contains.” Experience the full brunt of her dislike here. Feel free to let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments.
More of Fiction Advocate’s Gatsby coverage here.
- Michael Moats
Last week, the New York Times reported that The Great Gatsby “is dividing the nation’s booksellers with dueling paperback editions: the enigmatic blue cover of the original and the movie tie-in book that went on sale Tuesday, a brash, flashy version with Leonardo DiCaprio front and center.” The hero of the story was Kevin Cassem at New York’s McNally Jackson Books, who explained, “We’re selling the classic cover and have no intention of selling the new one.” Mr. Cassem, saying what we’ve all been thinking, added: “I think it would bring shame to anyone who was trying to read that book on the subway.”
Not surprisingly, these feelings are not shared by the people of Wal-Mart, who don’t tend to evaluate things based on subway cred, and more often think in terms of amassing “fresh green” that is “commensurate to [their] capacity for wonder.” The mega store will be selling the novel in the Leonardo DiCaprio cover and only the Leonardo DiCaprio cover, which, honestly, will be much more effective at luring people into a story that couldn’t be further from everyday low prices.
The good news in all of this is that people are talking about The Great Gatsby and thinking about good, old fashioned book covers. At this point in the year, sales of Gatsby are projected to put it among the best selling books of the year, allowing it to serve as “a literary palate cleanser to follow 2012, when the American book-buying public gorged on the Fifty Shades erotica series.”
Over the years, there have been many different covers of The Great Gatsby, some greater than others. The Times again has the scoop, and has collected images of the book from over the years and around the world.
(FYI — McNally Jackson’s Book of the Month is Renata Adler’s Speedboat, which Brian Hurley is excited to tell you all about.)
- Michael Moats
Climate change? Apparently so.
In “So Hot Right Now: Has Climate Change Created A New Literary Genre?” NPR Books explores the growing genre of “cli-fi”:
Over the past decade, more and more writers have begun to set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth’s systems are noticeably off-kilter. The genre has come to be called climate fiction — “cli-fi,” for short.
NPR starts the discussion with Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow, which people are talking about because it seems to have predicted the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, Exhibit B for “cli-fi” is Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which is a bad example because — much as I still love Jurassic Park and even The Lost World — it’s garbage. Continue reading
PBS Digital Studios, with Blank on Blank, does another great video. This time it’s an interview with David Foster Wallace, who speaks softly on ambition, perfection, and limitations:
For more, PBS Digital Studios remixes Reading Rainbow here.
I never watched The Hangover: Part II. I loved the original movie deeply, but was told by multiple sources that the second was a trudging, shot-for-shot remake of its predecessor, and what had been so charming and fresh–even in the tired genre of drunk buddy films–lost its appeal with repetition. So with that in mind, let me be the first to ever say: The closest I’ve come to watching The Hangover: Part II was reading Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies.
Bodies was the 2012 Booker Prize winner and one of my most anticipated reads after loving, deeply, its 2009 Booker Prize winning predecessor, Wolf Hall. But throughout the novel, I consistently felt as if I’d seen this all before, and that what had been so engaging in the first go round–even in the tired genre of historical fiction–was less so with repetition.
This is not to say that Bring up the Bodies is not worth your time, or anywhere near as bad as the second Hangover was rumored to be. Continue reading