The OF Blog: Conversing about books, utilizing book pictures

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Conversing about books, utilizing book pictures


put their heads together and begin discussing books owned and books that needed to be read or at least investigated further.  They thought, "hey, what about women and water?"

"Well, there's always Kit Whitfield's In Great Waters if you want a cover that features women and water.  Plus I hear it was nominated for a few awards in 2010," the McSweeney's #36 head said.  "Yes," responded the thinking Flann O'Brien head, "it is a good one, but there is something weird about the Clark Ashton Smith Xiccarph, or maybe it's just the cover and the odd title that make it so appealingly odd?"

"Perhaps so, but what about this?"

"Sure, Sure, Miyuki Miyabe's Ico:  Castle in the Mist contains some promise, but it's based off of a videogame?  That might portend several things, but it doesn't mean it'll be weird.  Still, it bears looking into.  As for the John Sayles book, A Moment in the Sun, it has languished a while on the reading docket, no?  But this tale of fin-de-siècle 19th-20th century American life has pleased the few times it's been dipped into."

The McSweeney's head/box thought for a minute and then remarked: 

"Road trip-type novels appeal to many.  Although he's far from that in his writing, there's always Javier Marías' works.  Tu rosto mañana is a huge international hit – I hear three weird bastards are talking about doing group reviews of it sometime – while Los enamoramientos has already been through two editions in 2011 alone in Spain and it possibly will replicate its predecessor's success when it's translated into English in the near future."

The Flann O'Brien thinking head scratched his chin for a few moments, lost in thought.  "Well, for me, I'm trying to decide between the neglected works of the Harlem Renaissance writers (Library of America has just released a two-volume set of short novels from the 1920s and 1930s) and the obscurity under which Michel Bernanos' La montagne morte de la vie has languished ever since the 1960s.  Thankfully, it will be available shortly in translation in The Weird."

"Well, these certainly are worthy books for whatever mood this daft reader might be in," the McSweeney's head demurred, "but I cannot decide whether or not there is sufficient merit to look beyond the cover of K.V. Johansen's Blackdog.  It contains a brooding dark-skinned swordsman and an almost whiter-than-white female heroine character with some dog, presumably black, and a bird.  It feels too similar to so many other covers to run-of-the-mill secondary-world fantasies that I'm uncertain if it will offer anything new to jaded readers.  But the book beside it, Zoran Živković's The Writer/The Book/The Reader, is visually appealing because the cover image is so sparse and it seems to promise there is much to be beheld within."

"Yes, Živković has some of the better covers for his books, regardless of the language of the edition being viewed (here is the Serbian original, which is almost erotic in its connection of reader and book).  But what grabbed me recently was this new Gollancz SF Masterworks edition cover for Frank Herbert's Hellstrom's Hive.  It certainly provides a thematic link to the story within.  Creepy, but effective as well.  If only there were more covers that could hint so strongly about the contents as this one does."

"Well, there's more that could be said about covers, but what about titles?  This 2010 novel by Paul Murray, Skippy Dies, seems to be a rather morbid title, but it also seems to hint that it is a character study.  Maybe I'm just overthinking it, but why am I reminded of Gabriel García Márquez's excellent Chronicle of a Death Foretold, in that the death might serve to highlight the lives and motives of those surrounding the victim.  Despite the bland lettering, it likely will be a book that will be read on a college football Saturday."

"Football..." the Flann O'Brien head drawled, "you mean the beautiful sport, don't you?"

"No, I mean the glorious smashmouth game in which a juke can break ankles and that a well-timed playaction pass can sucker the DB into cheating toward the line of scrimmage...err, I suppose we should wrap up this book talk and get down to other matters?"

And with that, this hazy sort of dream ended.  Surrounding me were over a dozen books of all sorts, shapes, and languages.  Looks like September will see a lot of reading (and some re-reading).  At least there should be some promising discoveries, no?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The videogame Ico itself is actually a very resonating and slightly Gormenghast-ly piece of work. I haven't played it myself, but the developer has a legendary status in the world of games and you don't need to see or hear a lot of it to get a feeling of it. If the book-adaption is any good, I cannot say, but I can see how it would naturally fall somewhere into that category. Don't know if you know the animations by Hayao Miyazaki, but the depth of emotion is similar.

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