I FINISHED MIDDLEMARCH LAST NIGHT. fucking accomplishment, y’all. i’m so happy to be done with it, which might seem to contradict the fact that i did actually enjoy it and find it refreshing, especially with eliot’s poking of the marriage plot, but 838 pages is too damn long. no book needs to be 838 pages. i remain unapologetic in my aversion to long books.
as you've probably ascertained from the title, this is not a middlemarch post. there will be more middlemarch posts, at least two more. thanks for being patient!
one of my favorite things i did in LA was go to a bookstore with the illustrator friend and look at covers. she bought me renee adhieh’s the wrath and the dawn (putnam, 2015), which is stunningly designed, and i showed her the beautiful black edges of kazuo ishiguro’s the buried giant (knopf, 2015) and the beauty that is michel faber’s the book of strange new things (hogarth, 2014). we oohed over sara novic’s girl at war (random house, 2015) because circle! (we both like circles) (which means we both like the covers to rebecca solnit’s a field guide to getting lost [penguin, 2005] and the faraway nearby [penguin, 2013]), and we came across taylor antrim’s immunity (regan arts, 2015), which is so fucking beautiful and consistently designed that we were both tempted to buy it, even though we’d no idea what the book was about or if it were any good.
which, y’know, we could’ve done something about by actually reading the book, but there were more covers to see.
we saw caryl phillips’ the lost child (FSG, 2015), and i said, this is inspired by wuthering heights, and she said, i can see that; the cover reflects it. she liked daniel handler’s we are pirates (bloomsbury, 2015) -- the color-blocking of the wraparound cover (i don’t know the technical terms; in another life, i would’ve been an art school kid and known these things), and the contrast to the more rollicking cover on the actual book -- i thought that was nifty. i talked about jeff vandermeer’s the southern reach trilogy (FSG, 2014)*, how it was totally the cover that made me pick up the books in the first place because, holy shit, they’re beautiful and how can you talk stellar book covers and not bring them up. afterward, after we’d exhausted the new fiction section, we went to a cafe, and i pulled up FSG’s redesigns of flannery o’connor’s work**, and then i scrolled through twitter to show her alex mar’s witches of america (FSG, 2015, forthcoming) because (01) circles and (02) gold and (03) isn’t that gorgeous? -- after which, we fell back on what the hell happened to purity? though purity (FSG, 2015, forthcoming) is so wtf that it's memorable, so i suppose the design can be considered a success.
spending time in a bookstore looking at covers sounds like a weird thing to get excited about, but it’s one of the things we do, this friend and i. she's also one of my closest friends and one of very few people i know who get excited over book covers like i do, who understand what i mean when i open a book with a great cover only to find that the layout has been haphazardly done. or who laugh when i say i can’t buy rachel cusk’s outline (FSG, 2015) because i can’t do the sans serif (seriously, i’ve tried; i can’t) (good thing i subscribe to the paris review). or who understand what i mean when i open murakami’s colorless tsukuru tazaki (knopf, 2014) and point at the jagged right margin and make my :| face. (one day, i’ll learn these technical terms.) small things, maybe, but we have a lot of fun, and i miss her constantly because she's across the country in california.
* this might be a weird link because it's talking about the spanish covers, but the spanish covers are gorgeous, too. the paperback US covers can be seen if you scroll down.
(also, here's my review of the trilogy.)
** this is a cooool post. make sure to go through the slideshows of each cover to see the work-in-progress!
currently reading margaret atwood's stone mattress for book club tomorrow, and i don't know what it is about me and leaving book club books to the day before we meet. it's miraculous that i manage to finish (i have this thing where i must finish all books for book club), though i do think i should start reading them earlier, so i can have time to mull over them and think on them.
i love how this book club came around, too, because it was totally by chance. i took part of a vocational intensive at redeemer, and, last october, i went to a marilynne robinson reading in park slope. as i was leaving, someone stopped me because she recognized me from the intensive (i was part of the artists' cohort; she was part of the educators' cohort), and we met up for coffee and, eventually, invited other people and decided to start a book club! our first "unofficial" book was robinson's lila (FSG, 2015), then we read alice munro's the beggar maid (vintage, 1991, reissue), kazuo ishiguro's an artist of the floating world (faber and faber, 1986), and, now, atwood's stone mattress (nan a. talese, 2014). we're planning on reading some toni morrison soon, too; maybe it'll be our next read!
heh, i should be reading right now ...
my april recap is forthcoming; i will write about the books i read last month. i got caught up with my read of middlemarch, though, and then i was in california, and we always have excuses for these delays, don't we? in the end, i haven't written it yet because i haven't written yet. i will write it over the next few days, though, and have that up by the end of next week as well!
... or maybe i continue to be stupidly ambitious ...