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Friday, September 14, 2007

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

Jacket design by Anne Winslow, illustration from Struwwelpeter (The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches)

This is a wonderful book -- I'm about 30 pages from finishing it -- and I can't do any better than to borrow some of the words and phrases used in a customer review on Amazon: it's funny, quirky, sad, and tremendously well-written. The Publishers Weekly review sums the book up nicely:

"The delightfully dark story of Sam Pulsifer, the accidental arsonist and murderer narrator...Growing up in Amherst, Mass., with an editor for a father and an English teacher for a mother, Sam was fed endless stories that fueled (literally and figuratively) the rest of his life. Thus, the blurred boundaries between fact and fiction, story and reality become the landscape for amusing and provocative adventures that begin when, at age 18, Sam accidentally torches the Emily Dickinson Homestead, killing two people. After serving 10 years, Sam tries to distance himself from his past through college, employment, marriage and fatherhood, but he eventually winds up back in his parents' home, separated from his wife and jobless. When more literary landmarks go up in flames, Sam is the likely suspect..."

I think there's a lot to like about the spine (we don't talk enough about spines, do we?)-- I'm a sucker for the horizontal arrangement of the text, and bringing the image and the colors from the type over from the front works nicely.

There's one thing about the cover that jumps out at me: not as great, and not as odd, but just unusual. Check out the stroke around both the title and the author's name, and then, if you've got a few minutes to burn, poke around the archives and try to find another cover with such prominently stroked letters. You'll see some dropshadows and other things that give the characters some depth, but very, very few -- if any -- similar treatments. So who's got an idea about this?

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jasfitz said...

Fabulous spine. Unfortunately, seeing it first made me extra-disappointed when I scrolled down to the cover. Can't say I think it's very successful.

Anonymous said...

Oh jeez, I love the whole thing.

Ian S. said...

Yeah, I dig this cover.

Greg said...

Gotta agree with jasfitz. Spine is great, front cover makes my eyes water.