TMR Editors’ Prize
Our new, enhanced online anthology
Current Issue: 36.1 (Spring 2013)
Featuring the winners of the 2012 Editors' Prize as well as work by Cara Blue Adams, Jennifer Anderson, Aaron Belz, Jerry Gabriel, Darren Morris, and Brad Wetherell... along with a conversation with Steve Almond and William Giraldi and a look at the art of Al Hirschfeld.
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Author Archives: Kris
Recently GraphicDesign&, a pioneering publishing house in London, asked seventy international designers to give the first page of Dickens’ Great Expectations a new, jazzy look. They collected results in a book titled Page 1: Great Expectations that can be ordered from their website for $25.00 plus shipping. The website offers pictures of a sampling of the varied layouts and typographical styles, ranging from tabloid and magazine inspired presentations to what’s called infographics and data visualization that translates text into charts and graphs. The pieces are accompanied by brief though sometimes lofty explanations of the designers’ approaches to Dickens’ iconic first page.
Many of the approaches are fun and visually playful but unfortunately some designers fall into the trap of allowing the text to become secondary to the design. I can’t see wanting to relegate one of the most famous novel openings—“My father’s family name being Pirrip and my Christian name Phillip, my infant tongue could make of both nothing more explicit than Pip”—to a miasma of tables, bars, charts, grids and graphics. The layouts sometimes strike me as the visual equivalent of a post modern novel run amuck.
I am a casual connoisseur of book and magazine design but no expert. Most of my knowledge on the subject comes from being a regular reader of Print magazine, and whenever I am in Vancouver I drop by Emily Carr School of Design and sit in the current periodicals room and page through their selection of art and design magazines. Also a lot of literary magazines come through the office of TMR, and I peruse them for visual elements that I like and ones that I don’t.
One of my favorite magazines both in terms of production value and design is Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture published by the Korea Institute at Harvard. The weighty journal has looped linen cover stock, French flaps, and block color front matter that picks up the interior spot color. Inside the text is reader friendly with plenty of white space.
When I’m feeling frazzled by hyper overdesigned books and publications, I turn to the New Yorker, which hasn’t changed its font or layout design since 1925 when Rea Irvin gave the magazine its distinctive design personality. The New Yorker has avoided needing a makeover because Irvin was able to create such a distinctive visual voice right from the start.
I’d love to know which books and magazines that you admire for their design flair.
Kris Somerville is the marketing director of The Missouri Review
The Missouri Review is pleased to feature the work of Greek street artist Alexandros Vasmoulakis on the cover of the summer issue, “Significant Others.” Vasmoulakis’ colorful, whimsical illustration “Contemporary Romeo” suggests the content of the issue as it renders in a humorous way the complexities of human relationships—in this case the perennial ordeal of love. Vasmoulakis’ modern day, motorcycle riding Romeo will have Juliet even if it means carrying away the castle in a feat of virile showmanship.
Readers will see the work of Vasmoulakis again in an up-coming feature on street art that will also feature the work of Banksy, BTOY, and Miss Bugs. Hop over to his website to see his work on buildings and in galleries, videos, drawings, and other work he has called “miscellany.” Don’t expect a lot of personal bluster about who he is and what he does, though: his biography is as simple as this: “Alexandros Vasmoulakis was born in Athens in 1980. He studied fine arts and works as a freelancer. His main purpose is to communicate.”
The summer issue is at our printer now, and should be hitting your mailbox in the next three weeks(-ish). Inside, you’ll find new stories by Tom Barbash, Elisabeth Fairchild, A.R. Rea, and Amin Ahmad; essays by John W. Evans and Daniel Anderson; poetry by Steve Gehrke, Diane Seuss, and Peter Jay Shippy; and a brand spankin’ new omnibus review by Anthony Aycock. We’re really proud of how this issue has turned out, and know that you’ll be delighted, too!
Kris Somerville is The Missouri Review’s Marketing Director.
Buried in the bottom corner of Sunday’s “Week in Review” section of The New York Times is a picture of Jonathan Franzen, dirty blond hair neatly tousled, black hipster glasses firmly in place, lips drawn in a tight semi-smile. The title of the six sentence news story reads, “Franzen’s Message to Fans: That Is a Rough Draft.” Apparently Harper Collins UK published and distributed 80,000 copies of a draft version of his new novel Freedom by mistake. So sorry old boy.
Some news groups are reporting that the misprint will be pulped and that the 8,000 copies already sold can be exchanged. While others are saying that for “logistical reasons” the books will not be tossed in the shredder. What is not clear in the second version of the story is whether the publisher intends to sell the misprint.
In the meantime, Victoria Barnsley, Harper Collins UK CEO, is blaming the typesetter, a small Scottish outfit called Palimpsest, though no one is saying who sent them the wrong version and who failed to read the final proof. These are the real questions that need answering. But for now, damn those blimey Scots.
So if you find a typo in this blog, don’t blame me. The Scottish typesetter did it.
Last May the Guardian published a list of ten troubled men in literature. A student of mine emailed it to me because in my Coming of Age Literature class we had read about several of the characters who topped the list: Holden Caulfield, Dean Moriarty, “you” in Bright Lights, Big City, and Jake from The Sun Also Rises.
British novelist Tony Parsons, author of the list, defined a troubled man as one who is “working through his problems, and trying to make sense of the world and his place in it.”
The genre of coming-of-age literature is full of both young men and women who are trying to navigate the world and its conflicts. So, of course, Parsons’ selection of troubled men leads me to ask, what about the women?
Of course, I have several favorites: Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar, Emma Bovary, Shakespeare’s Cleopatra. And most recently I’ve been touched by Ree’s story in Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone. Her troubles are inflicted on her by her father and extended family, crank dealers who cook up their product deep in the Ozark woods. Her recently arrested father uses their house as collateral to post bond and then disappears. If he doesn’t show up for court the house is lost and Ree, her catatonic mother, and two younger brothers will be tossed out. As she searches the frozen winter landscape for signs of him, dead or alive, she is pulled deeper into a lawless society that lives according to an ancient and brutal code.
Perhaps my favorite troubled woman is Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson’s millennium series. In this case, skip the books and go straight to the Swedish movies: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. The role is perfectly cast; Noomi Rapace plays a tattooed, pieced, leather-jacket wearing genius hacker who has been abused by the male authority figures in her life. Now she doesn’t like guys, though through a series of accidents she becomes reluctant friends with middle-aged journalist Mikael Blomkvist.
Lisbeth is one of the most memorable cinematic antiheros since Le Femme Nikita. Though she’s tiny and lithe, you believe she can fight off a series of attackers in the underground, ride a motorcycle, and exact all matters of revenge. She also cleans up well. When she dons a blond wig and Chanel-like suit, she wouldn’t be out of place next to Anna Wintour at Paris’ fashion week.
Those are a few of my favorites. How about one of yours?
French fashion designer Olympia Le-Tan, formerly of Chanel, feared that her favorite literary classics were being forgotten because of the Internet so she decided to turn them into clutch-style purses or “literapurses” as they are being called. The collection, “You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover,” includes sixteen first-edition cover designs of such literary classics as Lord Jim, Moby Dick, The Catcher in the Rye, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. The covers are hand-knitted and embroidered with silk thread over finely crafted Italian leather and lined with liberty-patterned fabric.
Stocking your shelves with Le-Tan’s handiwork will set you back about $1,500 a clutch, almost as much as a first edition.
You can take a look at her handiwork at www.olympialetan.com
We don’t usually say much about our covers, which needs to change because we’ve been using the work of some exciting contemporary artists. The cover of our current issue, Crash, is a photograph by Kerry Skarbakka. For the sake of the camera, he jumps off bridges, freefalls from skyscrapers, tumbles from stepladders, trips down stairs face first or simply slips in the tub. He has been compiling a portfolio of falling pictures since 2002. We had a difficult time selecting from this collection because all of the photographs had cover potential. You can visit his gallery at www.skarbakka.com
Our up-coming cover for the fall Shadow’s issue is by English filmmaker, photographer and conceptual artist Sam Taylor-Wood from her Bram Stoker’s Chair series. This summer I took in one of her video installations at Montreal’s Museum of Contemporary Art. It was a playful piece of Robert Downey Jr. lip-syncing badly to an Elton John ballad as he walks languidly through an empty mansion. Her first feature film Nowhere Boy about John Lennon’s childhood in Liverpool opens in October before the seventieth anniversary of his birth. It stars Aaron Johnson as Lennon and Kristin Scott Thomas as his buttoned-up Aunt Mimi. You can view Sam Taylor-Wood’s work at www.whitecube.com
Kris Somerville is the marketing director of The Missouri Review.