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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Last Novel

Design by Kimberly Glyder Design.

Today's question: how would you design a jacket for a novel that desperately, aggressively, willfully tries not to be a novel -- a book that "does away with most narrative conventions -- plot, colorful characters, dramatic conflict," using instead "a collage of very short anecdotes, apocryphal legends, aphorisms, (and) lurid gossip...run(ning) through (a) fragmented consciousness?" And one that begs comparison to Joyce, Beckett, Burroughs, Ginsberg and Shakespearean sonnets, just to name a few? (Read the wonderful NY Times review, from which the above quotes are taken.)

Here's the answer:


The debate begins...now.

16 comments:

Juan Carlos said...

Jesus that's so boring and safe, for a supposedly non-conventionlal book.

Anonymous said...

I think its quite nice...

Seth Christenfeld said...

Cover is credited to Kimberly Glyder Design.

shorty said...

I think I might've tried making it look somewhat beat up and torn at the corners as though it was the last one left on a shelf. Maybe that's boring and safe. No great ideas.

andrea said...

Eh. Not so interesting of a cover, but but your description would make me avoid it anyway. Sounds like this author is trying to get around actually having any talent for either plot or narrative.

Dystopos said...

Here's how one person accomplished virtually the same brief.

Ian B. Shimkoviak said...

I love it. Bold, strong, and to the point without being obnoxious. This cover is winner on the shelf and grabs you and begs for a peak. And while the whole "picture of book as book cover" thing has been done here and there, this is a winner on the composition and attention-grabbing quality of the entire piece. Cool stuff...

Anonymous said...

If the (often boring) convention for novel covers/jackets is to evoke the main character or plot in some way, what do you do when there is no main character or plot? The absence of those references in this cover--in fact, the emptiness evoked by the open book--seems spot on for the book as described (I haven't read it, but the NYT review makes me want to, being a huge fan of Joyce and Beckett). Further, the book is obviously meant to appeal to the literary type, not the beach read type--what better way to appeal to that crowd than with an image of a book. Shouldn't a designer keep in mind the book's market? Condescending literary criticism aside (no, not every author who avoids plot necessarily has no talent for it) if this cover doesn't appeal to you, chances are the book itself won't appeal to you. So move on. That doesn't make the cover a failure. I think this cover is very nicely, even deftly, treated. (I should disclose that I know the designer.)

luciano said...

There's many Kimberly Glyder's covers I like more than this.
She never comes out with what we would usually tag as IDEAS.
It seems the book neither does it.
Hope cover makes justice with its content.
But finally, I think it's not a bad cover at all.

Anonymous said...

I like that it has a very clean look.
If it was worn and such I would find it boring, done before. This has a very graphic feel that I like and doesn't need to be compromised.

Brad said...

While I am not a huge fan of this design, I think it is better than many of Markson's other novels in that department. Unfortunately however, I would rank this among the weakest of his novels on the page; it is the only one where his own voice comes through too strongly, his own ego shows too obviously -- it comes off as sort of absurd, this desire to be recognised for his work, in the context of a career made in part by cataloguing the widespread failure of artists to be acknowledged by critics and society at large. I am a huge, huge fan of Markson, but if you are going to read one book of his, make it Wittgenstein's Mistress.

sophie said...

I like it. The perspective on the text looks a bit wonky I like that too- also I like the fact that it looks like an idea rather than a finshed work. Is that be a good thing? Why not. It begs the question 'how would you change it'?
This book cover aside. I have just discovered this blog and I love it. May you who does the main stuff be showered with good fortune, lovely prezzies and heaps of worthwhile engagement. As my friend Itu always says Never judge a cover by its book!

jane lightle said...

this seems almost too preditable after you take a minute to let it sink in. it was possibly the best concept due to a lack of a concept...

Javier said...

I would think that the title on the fake book on the cover would be on the last page instead of the first end paper .....

gb said...

I have the book, and to be honest didn't realize there was a book on the cover. I think a more fitting cover would have been a 3X5 card with Markson's name printed at the top last name first.

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