Lolita has been, for decades, a great inspiration to cover designers, and all those great covers inspired architect John Bertram to hold his own cover design contest to see who could best re-imagine Nabokov’s classic. The resulting competition has now inspired a book, coming in August, with a cover by designers Sulki & Min that references a letter Nabokov sent to his American publisher, Walter J. Minton of Putnam, in April 1959 about the cover design for Lolita. “I want pure colors, melting clouds, accurately drawn details, a sunburst above a receding road with the light reflected in furrows and ruts, after rain. And no girls. If we cannot find that kind of artistic and virile painting, let us settle for an immaculate white jacket (rough texture paper instead of the usual glossy kind), with LOLITA in bold black lettering.” More: An interview with Bertram.
“Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them creative geniuses. Some people see things others cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill.” The Atlantic has an excellent contribution to the age-old thesis that creativity and madness are inextricably linked–and tied, moreover, to mental illness–based in part on a sample of students at Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Pair with another essay on creativity and the “touch of madness” from our own archives.
We are now over a week into Amazon’s boycott of the indie press e-books distributed under the Independent Publishers Group. IPG is taking a stand against Amazon’s hardline negotiations during the retail giant’s annual contract review, and 5000 titles are no longer available through the Kindle store. Last week Jim Hanas, author of the digitally and independently published Why They Cried, spoke out against Amazon to champion other e-readers and e-book retailers. The renegotiations are taking place across the industry, though, as Melville House’s Dennis Johnson puts it, “major industry figures at the big houses in New York — facing similar cutthroat demands from Amazon for their own annual contracts — remain silent… This isn’t over yet.”
“Werner isn’t surprised to pass the entrance exams easily. He’s more nonplused to find his head measured with calipers and his hair whiter than any of the 60-odd shades of blond on the examiners’ charts. It goes without saying that his eyes are also rated for their shade of blue.” Janet Maslin reviews Anthony Doerr’s new novel.
Eleanor Catton just became the youngest person ever to win a Man Booker, but we were fans of her long before. Our own Emily St. John Mandel included Catton’s debut novel The Rehearsal on her list of disorienting reads. Paul Murray also recommended the book on his 2012 Year in Reading.