Shop Indie Bookstores

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Braindead Megaphone

Design by Rodrigo Corral


George Saunders' first collection of essays is out, and before you say "What the HELL is that?", read something that Saunders wrote on his Amazon.com blog:

"The central premise of the title essay in my new book, The Braindead Megaphone, is this: Our cultural discourse is being dumbed-down by mass-media prose that is written too quickly, and therefore fails to due justice to the complexity of the world."

And now think about the latest newscast you watched and tell me that this design doesn't hit all the right notes: ugly graphics, interchangeable talking heads, and most importantly, a real schizoid aesthetic that speaks directly to the way news is created and reported.

Thanks, Austin, for sending this in.

Buy this book from Amazon.com

12 comments:

Ian S. said...

very interesting. But unfortunately this ads to the trash of the world as well. I think this cover is poorly executed, but the concept is good. News stations pay a good amount of attention to their graphics these days and this looks like lettering from some old talk show in the 70s.

So I get this idea. But I don't get the solution.

Joseph said...

There's a larger conversation to be had here, I think: deliberately designing ugly things. I'm not sure how many such covers there are in the archives, but I'll try to look around.

James said...

I hope he really didn't write "fails to _due_ justice" in his blog entry.

Tal said...

I say, Go Rodrigo! This cover is wacky enough to get people's attention. The fact that it's not pretty in the conventional sense helps it to stand out. If anything, I think the split headz and 3-D type make it look science-fiction-y in a Kurt Vonnegut sort of way.

Joseph said...

Here's the link to the blog entry:

http://tinyurl.com/24jzw3

Eva said...

I found this.

http://rebeccaburgess.blogspot.com/
2007/09/inner-view-on-book-design-
holly.html

May be of interest to other non-designers like myself who usually just lurk.

Joseph, thanks for the great blog. I never thought I'd get into book covers.

Ian S. said...

if this cover is meant to be ugly and communicate the ugly nature of mass media news. Then it has done the job... Bravo. Another anti-corp media book with another ugly cover. Don't get me wrong. i love Corrals bold, in-yo-face book covers like the next guy.

austin kleon said...

it's ugly, and I think it's probably ugly on purpose, but unfortunately, i'm not sure the ugly is gonna sell more books for GS.

but I'm glad you posted about it!

Anonymous said...

If I may play devil's advocate, isn't the cover's rhetoric a kind of pathetic fallacy in that the only way to communicate the ugliness of the subject matter is to present it in an equally ugly format?

ian s. said...

i don't agree. there is a good many ways to make this cover attractive, yet conceptually candid to the subject of the book. Graphic design is first and foremost a commercial art. The art of selling. the art of attraction. You can sell crap to people, but at least make it readable and legible. There is a billion was to convey ugliness and confusion without being overtly literal with that metaphor. You need not look further than Jon Gray http://www.gray318.com/books.html for what I mean. But it does stop you, and make you kind of think about it all. But there has to be a dual function here: I'll pick it up. But will I pay $20 for it?

hope said...

It seems I'm going to be alone in saying this, but I don't think this is an "ugly" cover. Jarring, discordant, bright, perhaps... but not "ugly." The composition is good and totally appropriate for the content... and I think it works as a whole.

Ian S. said...

something new for the troops Joseph?