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Sunday, November 16, 2008

2666

Design (both hardcover & paperback) by Charlotte Strick

Arguably the publishing event of the year, Roberto Bolano's 2666 has been released as a single-volume 912-page hardcover and as a 3-volume paperback boxed set. I can't remember anything being released like this (simultaneous hardcover & multiple-volume paperback) before. Do you know of any?

The hardcover:


The paperbacks:


The hardcover and one of the paperbacks features a detail of Gustave Moreau's Jupiter and Semele (below; click to enlarge). Jupiter is, of course, Zeus; Semele is the mother of Dionysius.

16 comments:

GH said...

I *think* this is the work of Charlotte Strick.

Anonymous said...

it is Charlotte Strick. love the slipcase for the pb edition. more here

Seth Christenfeld said...

Not simultaneously, but six months or so after the hardcover release, a slipcased three-paperback version of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell was published.

Roman said...

Thats it? What about the works on the softcover? Who did those? Particularly interested in the paperback design; the different placing of the title on each, the different covers, etc. No mention that the book does not have billions of blurbs on it? Only 3 blurbs (one from Spain, France, America) on the inside cover.

I feel that you could have done so much more with a review of this design. =/

Joseph said...

Roman: Charlotte Strick did both the hardcover and the paperbacks (and I'm guessing the slipcover as well). Personally, I'm more interested in the marketing aspect of this (with the simultaneous hardcover and paperback releases).

Ian Brian Shimkoviak said...

oh damn. gotta get me this ASAP.

TechNald said...

oh wow. how do i get this book?

nate s. said...

I saw it in my local Barnes and Noble.

Lorin Stein said...

Wow--it's so gratifying to see others, outside FSG, respond the same way we did to Charlotte Strick's designs for 2666. Aren't they a knockout ...

In 1973 Viking published Gravity's Rainbow in hardcover and paperback. Gerald Howard tells the story of that publication in an excellent case study, "Rocket Redux," which appeared a few years ago in Bookforum. That's where we got the idea of doing two editions.

In Viking's case, the paperback was cheaper--priced for the students who had made V. an underground hit. In our case the editions cost the same (the three-volume pb was expensive to produce), but the idea was similar. We wanted to appeal to Bolano's core readership--with an edition you could actually carry around and read in bed or the bathtub. We also wanted an elegant edition that signaled the monumental nature of the work.

(All the more elegant without lots of blurbs, was our thinking.)

About the art: Gustave Moreau is mentioned in volume one (during a nightmare of Morini's). Seaweed is an obssession of von Archimboldi. As for the Cy Twombley painting, this was sheer inspiration on Charlotte's part. Like "Jupiter and Semele" it matches the action of the novel in ways that are hard to put into words--but that any reader will feel.

Lorin Stein (Senior Editor, FSG)

Joseph said...

Lorin: Wow...thank you so much for all the information.

Anonymous said...

Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves was published by Pantheon in 2000 in simultaneous hardcover and paperback editions, using Gravity's Rainbow as a model, but I am not aware of simultaneous HB and multi-volume PB editions. (Murakami's Norwegian Wood was published as a two-volume PB set in a clamshell box by Harvill, but there was no hardback edition.)

I am still trying to decide which edition of 2666 to get...

thomas said...

I'm so sorry. I really dislike the stacked, ornamental treatment of the title. And I'm not sure Moreau was the best choice. Granted, I've only read selections from the book and spoken with a few friends who are currently reading it, but it seems that the style is generally brisk, spare and economical—alternating (rather abruptly) between a staccato lyricism and flat statement of fact—that, while in the whole and over time build up in thematic layers, is entirely different from Moreau's fussy, retentive, decorative symbolism. Even glancing at the book in the store it's clear that this is not exactly Finnegan's Wake. It may be unconventional but it's certainly readable. And given that prospective readers are going to get the message ahead of time—loud and clear—that this is a big and involving book, it seems that the physical design would seek to balance the weight rather than gaudily augment it.
Anyway, whatever. I'm definitely going to buy it and I'm sure it's a great book. And maybe Bolaño's referencing Moreau in the context of a nightmare was a clever clue to the design detectives of the future. I don't know. It just seems too cutesy and decorative and feminine for a massive, hammering work of horror and emptiness. There, I said it.

thomas said...

And I'm going to throw out one more criticism because now I'm thinking of it and I can't let it go: Bolaño said that he was a Latin American writer. Most of the novel is set in Mexico. Surely today the novel is now an international art form and it is possible to think of a truly great work originating outside of the traditional European lineage. If ground zero of this novel is the hundreds of women brutally raped and murdered on the Mexican/American border in the late 20th Century, what really is going on when you sell that all wrapped up inside of a 19th Century French painter's perfumed interpretation of a Greco-Roman myth?

Jasper said...

Thomas:

Feminine? Really?
Without being annoyingly anal and technical as you unfortunately and unnecessarily are, the Moreau painting (all facts aside) looks like HELL and does NOT look feminine at all. You're being harsh for no good reason. You should take a look at the UK cover and thank Charlotte for her beautiful and expansive work on this book.
You're probably the only, or one of the very few, people who are upset/disappointed with the outcome of this design. It's stunning and is the kind of work that would even draw a purchase from someone who's never even heard of the author. I've seen it happen two times already.
Lighten up.
Seriously.
Lighten. Up.

Nik said...

Seriously, the design of this cover alone made me want to check it out. Can't wait til it arrives.

ladridos said...

I'm currently reading 2666 in Spanish, and I wish there was a 3-paperbacks version as the English translation in the US.

The book I've bought in Spain is too heavy to read it at the bed, or to carry it to places.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Awa6vYCP4Rw/SCqxMxw3ZRI/AAAAAAAABv0/nQC-O5gzcTE/s400/CM462_G.jpg

By the way, the design of the box with the 3 books is just awesome.