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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gentlemen of the Road, US and UK

Designer names to come; not yet published

The publication of a Michael Chabon novel is always a reason to rejoice, not only for the brilliant writing but also for the design of the books.

Publishers Weekly tells us: "Chabon recreates 10th-century Khazaria, the fabled kingdom of wild red-haired Jews on the western shore of the Caspian Sea...(Gentlemen of the Road is) a terrifically entertaining modern pulp adventure replete with marauding armies, drunken Vikings, beautiful prostitutes, rampaging elephants and mildly telegraphed plot points that aren't as they seem."

Even before I read PW's description, the US cover (directly below) said "pulp" to me -- or at least the bottom half does. I'm not entirely convinced the cover works as a whole: there's a sharpness to top half that might not quite gel with the softer lower half, and while both main typefaces are beautiful, I don't know that they're not fighting each other a little bit for attention.

It's impossible not to notice that the UK cover (below) looks so much like many of the titles in Penguin's Boys Own Books series. That's an observation, not a criticism: it's lovely on its own terms.

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Anonymous said...

I've gotta say, I'm not super impressed with the US solution. Not that it's a particularly bad solution. I'm just used to the highly emotive solutions that tend to be associated with a Chabon cover (usually highly customized). The UK cover veers a bit closer to the Chabon I'm used to viewing.

Cephas said...

If you read the serial in the NYTimes Magazine, you know this novel is pulpy, evoking Burroughs and Howard and such adventurous writers of the early half of the 20th century. So I prefer by far the U.K. version. I was hugely disappointed in the illustrations the Times used during the serialization, because they simply didn't fit the genre. I understood this republication to include some illustrations by Gary Gianni. I sure hope that's still true.

Thanks for giving us a peek at both covers! Chabon is one of my favorite authors by far, so it's good to see what's next.


Dystopos said...

I posted my 5-minute fix on Flickr.

Joseph said...

Yup, pretty sure Gary Gianni is doing the illustrations.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the British version too, much more adventurous. The American one reminds of something but I can't remember what! It's not good though.

Anonymous said...

I think the "pulpiness" of the content is irrelevant to the discussion. The US edition is simply awful. It looks more like something the publisher just didn't care about. A lot of dime novels are marvels of design, while still recognizably "trashy" looking.

Anonymous said...

HELP! I am looking for the typeface that was used in the US version of this book on the tops of the pages, and listing the Contents/chapters. It looks like Requiem, but with long tails on the N and M. If anyone knows how to find this typeface I would love some advice! Thanks. Please leave info here, I don't know how to 'blog'

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