Friday, July 30, 2010


As much as I do not enjoy kicking a dead horse, Allen and Unwin (via Granta) have once again managed to mangle what could have been a very good cover to a very good book. I've just finished reading Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story and it is really, really terrific. He has been an author on my radar for a while now, but once he appeared on the New Yorker's 20 Under 40 list (obtaining his own awkward pencil sketch portrait in the process) and once I read the cover blurb (for a George Saunders devotee like me, its recipe of dystopian deadpan surrealism was nigh on irresistible). So, yes, you should read it, but A&U have done their best to convince you otherwise...

Sometimes you see a book cover and think, okay, that's just something they've knocked up before the real jacket designer comes on board, or, cool, they've asked some gaol inmates to sketch a book cover as part of social therapy classes or maybe they've read a two-sentence blurb once and remembered some words and then looked up clipart from Word 95 and pasted it all together. This is one of those covers. For the lead Granta title for September, it's a pretty shocking effort. As one friend in the publishing industry so succinctly put it, "If that cover was my baby, I would try to put it back."

Nonetheless, I really do recommend you look past the cover and give it a go. You won't be disappointed.

In the interests of fairness, however, the US jacket isn't much better:

The UK jacket is getting there, but still doesn't do it for me:

P.S. I don't want it to feel like I'm picking on you, Allen & Unwin, so here's a book cover from Penguin (Viking) that I saw today, and should make you feel okay. Buckets ready...

When this image on the cover would be an improvement on the cover, you know you're in trouble.

P.P.S. Super Sad True Love Story also has by far the best book trailer of the year. Hi-larious: