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Thu, May. 14th, 2009 08:12 am
First glimpse of the cover of The Book of Scotlands

When I blogged about graphic designer Zak Kyes a year ago ("graphic energy: a new graphic designer has popped into my ken") I had no idea that within a year he'd have designed the cover of my first published book.

I've just received the design for The Book of Scotlands, due in a month or so from Sternberg Press, and really love what Zak has done with the cover. We'd talked about doing the kind of Rorschach map idea you can see on a rough cover mock-up I did myself last year. (That map idea survives on an inside spread of the finished book.) Then Zak thought about a purely typographic solution in which the first of my texts would start right on the cover, and there'd be no empty space or blank pages at all.

Finally, Zak has come up with a design that fits with other titles in the Solutions series (for instance, his fingers-crossed design for Umbauland by series editor Ingo Niermann, the book that really started this whole "speculative visions about countries" ball rolling), one that has its own "graphic energy".

The red cross, in Pantone 1655, is a colour reversal and rotation of the Scottish flag. The typeface is Johnston by Edward Johnston (1872-1944), who taught Eric Gill, and is best known for designing the sans-serif alphabet used for London Underground.



The slogan "every lie creates a parallel world; the world in which it is true" was originally going to go on the back of the book as a kind of motto (I've always liked that Leonard Cohen live album that just says: "They arrested a man who wanted to rule the world. The fools -- they arrested the wrong man!"), but Zak has promoted it to the front cover. He's also put it into two sentences, which makes it sound, to me, like advertising or propaganda.

In fact, the typeface and this rather amoral slogan evokes, for me, the world of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (perhaps an early Penguin edition). It's a great reference to make, because the Orwell novel is a sustained parallel England in the same way my texts are sustained parallel Scotlands. I can almost imagine my slogan about lies being plastered by Minilove (the Ministry of Love) all over the dowdy tube stations of Ingsoc, alongside slogans like "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." Mine, of course, would be reduced to: "Lies are truth."

And here we come full circle to Solutions series editor Ingo Niermann, who wrote in Umbauland of his plan to "redesign German" into a language called Rededeutsch -- a kind of German version of Orwell's Newspeak. It's an idea I found exciting enough to blog about for Design Observer back in 2005, long before I'd met Ingo and been commissioned by him to write The Book of Scotlands.

33CommentReplyFlag


(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 12:40 pm (UTC)

The designer would have been better off writing something like

ANOTHER FUCKING BOOK USING PARALLEL WORLD AND UNRELIABLE NARRATOR MEMES

on the cover.

Really, if you want to really impress the art world, you'd be better off writing something original. Not shit that screams "Look, I've learned all the correct things to say, pleeeease let be in your gang". But that, as they say, that'll be the day.

As for your forthcoming novel, I remember you even took your very 'influences' off Kundera. Which is actually a fine foundation for a book of jokes.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
jenkins 981/4

Jealous. JEalOUs. JEALOUS!


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
33mhz
33mhz
The Queen of Overdub Kisses
Fri, May. 15th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)

The alternative Scotland featured on the cover is the one where it's been transposed with Ireland.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 01:05 pm (UTC)

Why is "Momus" written so small?

I like the 1940s style typeface, but the flag business doesn't work, overall I don't think the cover is that great.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC)

It looks so retro. Surely the designer could have come up with something a bit more cutting edge? I thought you said you didn't like minimalism any more.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)

It's not awful.


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theholyinnocent
don draper's gin-soaked conscience
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)

FYI, the Rededeutsch link isn't working.

Call me boring or retro, but I do like the typeface.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)

You're boring or retro.

No, actually I like the typeface too, but it's kind of predictable. It's where good taste is right now. I would have hoped a Momus book would be tilting against perceived good taste. But whatever, it looks nice enough.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 02:14 pm (UTC)

"Lies are truth</>

You're sounding like a 1980s Rushdie novel, and not a good one at that.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC)

Come on Momus, it's not an egregiously bad cover but it's the hipster equivalent of dadrock, isn't it? It appeals to people of your age group because it kind of looks like those penguin paperbacks from the fifties you were reading second hand, it's a nostalgia trip.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)

No, it'll be a few weeks before physical copies exist.

Since some of the anons today clearly think they could do better -- and now have the official cover -- perhaps they'll rustle up counterfeits and be selling them outside Starr Space on the 24th!


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theartoflamb
theartoflamb
josewilliamvigers
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)

I'm really excited about your book. I have been watching and enjoying all the stuff you have said so far about it. Will it be available in Australia?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)

It's available worldwide through art and gallery bookstores.


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fishwithissues
fishwithissues
jordan fish
Thu, May. 14th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)

I dig this, a LOT.


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(Anonymous)
Fri, May. 15th, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)

the comments are getting funnier and funnier. pretty soon we'll all be in referring inside jokes inside past jokes of the present inside jokes. it's the momus livejournal clique.


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33mhz
33mhz
The Queen of Overdub Kisses
Fri, May. 15th, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)

I wanted to play Let's Redesign the Cover of Momus' Book too.

I'm glad I played, a wikipedia search for art and ideas lead me to learn about the carved stone balls of Scotland.



Warning: I didn't try to take the piss, so I'm not cool anymore. :(


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craig_pulsar
craig_pulsar
craig_pulsar
Fri, May. 15th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)

I'd get rid of the line 'Solution 11-167'. Make the font 'The Book of Scotlands' bigger. Make font of 'Every lie... which it is true' smaller. Swap the flag colours round to be more like the Nova Scotia flag. Have a picture of a red-haired man in a kimono in the bottom left corner. Something like that.

But I'm looking forward to it. Cover design is tricky.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, May. 19th, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)

I have no idea about design, but the cover has sold me on the book. I am there.

Now I reading what it's about. Still there!


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(Anonymous)
Tue, May. 19th, 2009 04:32 am (UTC)

"am"

Wow, reading through the comments, I'm surprised by the response to the cover. I guess I don't know enough to find it unexciting.


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thetemplekeeper
thetemplekeeper
thetemplekeeper
Wed, Jul. 1st, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Nice flag

I like the use of the Jersey flag on the cover. When's it out?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jul. 1st, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Nice flag

I have a finished copy in my hand right now!

I'm told that it'll be in the shops in the US in mid-August (it's actually shipped from Europe on a ship!), but here in Germany it'll just be a week or so until it hits stores, and Britain just a week or so later. So within July for Europe, and mid-August for the US and elsewhere.


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