1 year agoJanuary 23, 2013
Book jackets these days, for reasons I won’t unpack, seem to revel, overtly, in wit, conceptual deviousness, unusual clever or droll juxtapositions—we, as a professional community, seem to have elevated the visual bon mot above all other virtues. […] Not that wit in itself isn’t valuable, and doesn’t have an appropriate place in design—but wit is not the same thing as insightfulness, and often insightfulness is what is called for in a book jacket. Our fetishizing of cleverness has taken a toll I believe, in that (quite often) these clever solutions work at cross-purposes to the (more often than not sincere) narratives they represent. A book in which an author has gone out on a considerable limb in order to write in a genuine and unaffected fashion does not want a cover that winks at the reader. Wit, when it becomes compulsive (as anyone knows who has a friend who puns too often) quickly becomes its opposite—dullness or predictability. Are we, as a professional community, that punning guy? I hope not.