Category Archives: News

The Maze Runner : James Dashner

I have a copy of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. It’s second hand proof copy and the cover is white, with a thick yellow stripe at the top and bottom of the page. The title is written in stylised and foreboding type that suggests something broken or decayed and when this lettering is combined with the primary colour and the infantile ‘Chicken House’ logo, you are left with a suggestion that this is a book for young adults. And that is exactly what this is.

The three pillars on which this conclusion are based are subtle indicators though, and the conclusion more subconscious than realised. The art of the cover design is rooted in the ability to convey to potential readers a sense of a book within the covers, and convey that sense in the three or so seconds that a reader takes per cover, when scanning book shelves for their next read.

A proof copy of course doesn’t have to compete for readership, they are sent out directly from the publisher to (hopefully) interested parties and the proof design is enough to give a hint of what to expect.

The shift in design from proof to (I’m assuming) hardback to paper back to trilogy cover is interesting through; you can see how the elements have altered and expanded with each version. The same type is used for proof, hardback and paper back while the image of the maze grows more clearly defined in each iteration. In the cover to the trilogy the maze is fully realized, and because of this the type is simplified, making the title easier to read and the cover less confusing.

Inside the covers it’s just as good, a hugely gripping story (so much so that I haven’t started 1Q84 yet as I want to finish this first. And I’ve been looking forward to reading 1Q84 for weeks), the blurb about it is here. And at the end of 2010 it was announced that the book was to be turned in to a film.



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1Q84 – Haruki Murakami

I’m jealous of Norwegians.

I was in Norway for a night, for work, waiting in the airport lounge for the flight home. Having hours to kill and nothing to do I browsed the English section of the small Tanum bookshop, and then, still having nothing to do, I browsed the Norwegian section of the bookshop. And then I saw the hard back edition of 1Q84 there for sale. Continue reading

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My #londonriots

Saturday night: Pull up Guardian website on laptop and see ‘Riots in Tottenham’ or some such headline. First time I hear about Mark Duggan, protest marches or social unrest in the capital.  Not sure how I missed it. Papers focus on the gun, the bullet lodged in the radio, the gang-links-or-family-man? angle.

Meet friends on Sunday: Three days after the shooting happened and none of us has seen a report yet that says Duggan shot anyone, or indeed that it was his gun. Already it sounds like a mess. Hackney riots. Watch buildings and cars burn on the news for a couple of hours.

Monday: Work as per normal, riots have spread across the country. Cameron and Boris racing to be the first back from holiday. All quiet all evening until about 11.30 when youts trash a pizza delivery bike and dump it in the middle of the street. We and everyone else watch from our windows as groups of kids in tracksuits gather and holler at each other. Rubbish is scattered across the road and cars and buses weave their way through slowly. A police van screams up and everyone scatters. Four riot police disappear down a side street. A couple more police cars and a fire engine appear and disappear quickly. It’s all taken about twenty minutes to unfold. In the morning the street is clean and everything looks normal.

Tuesday: Broom picture of Clapham clean up gets tweeted and goes viral. Video of injured kid being mugged gets tweeted and goes viral. Both appear on the evening news. Shops leave shutters up throughout the day, some close early. I leave work early after hearing about looters at the Sainsbury’s near my flat, but when I emerge from the tube station it seems it’s a lot of Twitter bollocks. Tube is busy, everyone seems to be heading home early. Sense of tension in the air all day, news reports and anticipation and unease combine. All that build up and no follow though, not in London anyway. Streets are quiet all night.

Wednesday morning: Get in to work early, write this post. Will see what happens tonight.

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Reading in the bath

Photo taken from This Semblance Of collection, Emma Turpin

Photo of a friend, taken by her friend, that was included  in Spectrum – the photography section of the Sunday Times magazine – a couple of weeks ago. See more photos from the collection here:

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Solipsistic Pop 4

Comic artist and illustrator Tom Humberstone launched the first Solipsistic Pop anthology in November 2009 to a fanfare of good reviews. He has since brought together a further two volumes and the four volume of work is due out this November. Exciting.

Solipsistic Pop is a ‘biannual anthology designed to spotlight the best in alternative Comic art from the UK’. I’ve followed the title since it’s launch and each anthology has contained a plethora of work from artists I have never heard of. This isn’t a criticism; the work included is by turns haunting, thoughtful, funny, surreal and always beautiful, and I’m glad I get the chance to enjoy the fruits of a community that I know little about.

I’ve bought a few anthologies recently, mostly short story collections of new and emerging authors, and I’ve found that while the writing is, on the whole, incredibly impressive, the production values of the magazine/anthology/book is often below par. This disappointment is often compounded by the fact that most of these  magazines/anthologies/books have incredible websites with graphics and design that should pop off a page, but instead are hindered by poor printing, cheap paper and limp covers.

It shouldn’t matter that much really, but it does.

Solipsistic Pop in no way suffers from this lack of care at the final hurdle. Physically holding each edition of the anthology in your hands you feel in your fingertips the quality of the production and that means you’re left to concentrate on drinking in the art and the words and the design without distraction. The level of care taken over the content completely matches that taken over the production. This is a collection that cries out to be read.

As I say, Solipsistic Pop number 4 is released in November of this year and features 30 artists and authors (pictured below), all of whom I’m sure will demand your attention.

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One final book I’ve been meaning to read . . .

Racing Through the Dark : David Millar

Banned from professional cycling for two years after being caught doping in 2004, respected by many cycling fans for his return to cycling, but still doubted by many others. Millar’s biography has received great write ups (both in the cycling blogosphere and from trade press – see this piece from the Guardian). Looking forward to reading it.

The stunning portrait of Millar used for the cover was taken by London based Nadav Kander (see more of his work here).

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Murakami @ Gagosian

‘I think the Japanese male sexual complex originated in the two-dimensional world –animation, games and so on – which then transferred to small three-dimensional sculptures. But before my sculptures Miss Ko (1997) and My Lonesome Cowboy (1998), it had never been represented life-size.’

– – – Takashi Murakami

big box pko2, 2011 – – Takashi Murakami

Recently I visited the Gagosian Gallery near Kings Cross to see the Takashi Murakami exhibition that is currently being hosted there.

Murakami is an artist I knew little about, but as you walk in to the gallery (6-24 Britannia Street: ground floor level, one single large room, white walls, high ceiling) you soon get an idea.

A giant manga sculpture greets you; a blonde girl in a maid’s outfit with exaggerated hair and huge, ponderous breasts. Another model stands a little to the right of that, a smaller, thinner girl, again manga, heavily sexualised. Other sculptures include a giant gold penis (the penis has a smiley face at the top) and equally giant silver vagina, as well as a 2D made 3D box shaped girl (pictured above).

As the press release states, this is a man playing with the ‘enduring obsession with sexuality in contemporary human society’.

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