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.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your brain just went ahead and created that pesky simile for you? For individuals suffering with synesthesia (a neurological disorder in which one sense is “cross-wired” with another, such as seeing the color red or hearing a sour taste) the brain does just that. Here’s a piece from Electric Literature that takes a look at synesthesia, substances, and seeing the world askew.
“Any day’s news supplies plots so fantastic that most make-believe story lines pale in comparison.” Author John Altman in the LA Times about the difficulty of writing fiction during Trump’s presidency. “My current novel-in-progress concerns North Korea,” writes Altman, “and each day’s headlines endanger its premise. But too much second-guessing hobbles a writer. One can only take a deep breath, remind oneself that war with North Korea would jeopardize much more than a humble spy thriller, and forge ahead, hoping for the best.”
This year, the good folks at Slate and the Whiting Foundation kicked off a new literary prize, intended to reward authors for great second novels. To wrap up the year, they’ve asked several winners of the prize, including Akhil Sharma, Helen DeWitt and Daniel Alarcon, to write short pieces about objects that symbolize the writing process for their books. (Akhil Sharma chooses a stopwatch, while Eileen Myles chooses a can of Cafe Bustelo.)
New in fiction this week: Benediction by Kent Haruf and Ten White Geese by past IMPAC winner Gerbrand Bakker. In non-fiction: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss’s food industry exposé excerpted in the recent Times Magazine. From the other side of the food spectrum is Issue 6 of Lucky Peach. And it’s a big day for baseball fans: the 2013 Baseball Prospectus is here.
Patrick Somerville’s latest novel, This Bright River, was recently reviewed in The New York Times by Janet Maslin, who found the book to be, among other things, “soggy.” Unfortunately, some of her critique was based on a mistaken reading of Somerville’s work. I’ll let Patrick take it from here.