Prufrock's Page

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Marquez's Shiner

That much thought goes into author photographs is undisputed. And, judging by book flaps, the tweedy, scholarly and thoughtful poses on armchairs in front of bookshelves -- pipe optional -- have given way to more informal, accessible postures, often with windblown hair. Now, however, Gabriel Garcia Marquez may have heralded the start of a new trend: that of The Author Posing With A Black Eye.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Holding One's Breath

"In the end, flattery is wonderful so long as you don't inhale."

- James Salter, upon being asked how he felt when Harold Bloom included one of his novels in his Western Canon.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Judging Him By His Covers

Random House's Chip Kidd, "highly regarded for his work on books by authors as diverse as Michael Crichton, John Updike and Haruki Murakami, as well as for DC Comics titles, has been in the vanguard of the new wave of American book design". He shares his thoughts on his work in an interview from Adelaide during which he expresses disdain for e-books: "The e-book hasn't taken off, and nor should it. A book is already the most economical piece of technology there is. Which is not the same as the audio book. People want to be able to listen to books in their car and I think that's great, but that hasn't replaced the printed book either."

He's equally scathing about what are called "print on demand" books, and has politely declined offers to design them: "It's fine for some obscure thing that you could never get any other way, for research, but in terms of anything that's archival, or anything that you'd want to hold . . . they showed me some of these books, and they're so proud of the fact that they can print and bind them in three minutes. And you're screwed right there, because you're going to get something that looks like it was printed and bound in three minutes. It's terrible glue oozing out top and bottom and it's antithetical to somebody who actually loves books."

(Meanwhile, Mark Danielewski has come up with a nefarious plan to create "a book that can't exist online")

More Marai

Sandor Marai was introduced to the English-speaking world with Embers, after which came Casanova in Bolzano. For those whose appetite has been whetted for more -- including onself -- there's now The Rebels, translated by George Szirtes, which Arthur Philips calls "a darkly comic, war-ravaged coming-of-age tale that displays much of the genius visible in his later works, but it’s also funnier and more extravagantly imaginative than those books might have led one to expect."