Wednesday, 23 November 2011

you can judge a book by its cover

or at least you can when it's a penguin classic deluxe edition. which is what happened when i went into waterstones today and was confronted by a bunch of them. i was loving the cover of nathaniel hawthorne's scarlet letter so much i really wanted it even tho i've utterly failed to get thru the book at any attempt. it seems then that i am definitively one of those who can be suckered by book design.

and i make no bones about it. true, there will always be an edition that suits one and not the other but beyond that there's just that certain set of somethings that draws me in. i like an opaque high contrast paper. i like it when there's been choice of font and that whoever's made the book has seen fit to let me know (usually) at the back. i like the rough cut that you find on the finishes of (predominantly) american books. i wish more english publishers would follow. i remember when susanna clarke's jonathan strange and mr norrell came out in hardcover, loving the black edging on the paper an effect i've even managed to still like on one of the twilight books.

i like a matt cover, being completely converted back in my new york days - one of the only things i can say with assurance when i'm at the printers is 'matt laminate'. which is probably why i will never really engage with the kindle or any other such electronic reading device. it does the job but it leaves out everything else.

so, today it was the faber john clare that i ended up with. it looked pleasing, true but at the end of the day it was what was inside that counted. after the sojourn down south and listening to the wordsworth in the last post i recalled that, altho i can do wordsworth, i've never really liked him that much. clare on the other hand i always have but have never really spent a lot of time with him. picking up the book (and an excellent wee foreword by editor paul farley) that england i saw at the weekend, that's clare's england. i have my lovely wee book and it takes me somewhere else entirely...


Dominic Rivron said...

Re Wordsworth. I think Ezra Pound said (in a list of poetry-writing tips) "read as much Wordsworth as you can stand." It was a good list, as I remember... I lent the book to my daughter, so I can't go back to it, much as I'd like to.

I've always liked WW, probably because he was the first poet I really took notice of in my teens. I discovered him about the same time as I discovered Beethoven and -it may be purely personal- but they seem to breathe much the same air as each other to me.

swiss said...

now, there's a tricky one. if music was poetry who would it be? there's a thread in that!

Dominic Rivron said...

Definitely one to think about!

One could even extend it to if [artform A] was [artform B].