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Jordan Crane’s gorgeous cover art for Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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I really don’t have time to read anything besides law books anymore and my time as a graphic designer now seems a far distant memory, but I may have to pick this one up on looks alone. Yes, yes, I know, so it turns out you can in fact judge a book by its cover.

One of my favorite illustrators, Jordan Crane, has designed a beautiful and elaborate package for Michael Chabon’s new book, “Maps and Legends.” This new McSweeney’s publication lives up to the standards of high production values and design aesthetics McSweeney’s Publishing is already known for.

via Karen Horton and Boing Boing

Curiously enough, perhaps predictably, as the book deals largely with critics misunderstanding and underestimating the genre writer, Maps and Legends is excoriated in this Publishers Weekly review:

You would hardly think, reading Chabon’s new book of essays, that he won the Pulitzer Prize for a book about comics. Rather, he is bitter and defensive about his love for genre fiction such as mysteries and comic books. Serious writers, he says, cannot venture into these genres without losing credibility. No self-respecting literary genius… would ever describe him- or herself as primarily an ‘entertainer,’ Chabon writes. An entertainer is a man in a sequined dinner jacket, singing ‘She’s a Lady’ to a hall filled with women rubber-banding their underwear up onto the stage. Chabon devotes most of the essays to examining specific genres that he admires, from M.R. James’s ghost stories to Cormac McCarthy’s apocalyptic work, The Road. The remaining handful of essays are more memoir-focused, with Chabon explaining how he came to write many of his books. Chabon casts himself as one of the few brave souls willing to face ridicule—from whom isn’t entirely clear, though it seems to be academics—to write as he wishes. I write from the place I live: in exile, he says. It’s hard to imagine the audience for this book. Chabon seems to want to debate English professors, but surely only his fellow comic-book lovers will be interested in his tirade.

Reeeeowwwww! phfft! phfft!

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Category: graphic design, literary pretensions


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