Cover Gallery #4

It was a great thrill to have the cover of the first edition of my novel Foxy-T designed by Gray318, who at the time was fresh from the success of the dynamic, hand-painted (and by then ubiquitous) graphic he’d produced for Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, and who remains one of the best cover artists in the business. Interviewed for the Independent about his approach, Gray318 a.k.a. Jonathan Gray says,

Originally, design was very much about finding a lovely photograph for the jacket … I like creating more of a brand, a logo for the book. I’m a big fan of text, and of pushing that text to the limits of legibility. I don’t want to give a literal sense of the book’s subject, but more a flavour.

foxyt_demy_innertutuola-coverThe first edition of Foxy-T was produced in a jacketed demy paperback, and Gray318 produced a stark graphic that picked up on themes from the opening pages of the novel by mixing a hand-drawn, graffiti-like, marker-pen treatment of the names of the novel’s two main characters—Foxy-T and Ruji-Babes—with the title and (my) name floating in bold and narrow sans serif caps that appear to be cut or fractured along a couple of axes, as if in a rough collage. In a final, romantic detail, the ‘O’ of ‘FOXY-T’ contains two vertical hearts, slightly reminiscent of (although more slenderly-drawn and closer together than) the Papermate pen logo; a device that perhaps brings together the relationship at the heart of the novel and the neat, felt-pen tags seen in its opening paragraph.

faber-sf-coverThere are two colour schemes: the cover itself has white-out graffiti and hearts on a red ground with black title floating across the central third, while the paper dust jacket (below) in which the book is wrapped features red graffiti on a yellow ground with black title identically placed. The finishing touch is that the hearts on the dust jacket are picked out in red foil.

At the time, Gray318’s stark designs with their monochrome grounds reminded me of the simple typographic covers on Faber paperbacks of old: novels by the likes of Lawrence Durrell and Amos Tutuola. I loved—and still love—that the design of a contemporary Faber novel could make a connection with the house’s rich heritage of typographically-based cover art in this way.

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This all came to mind recently, when I met up with Lee Brackstone, my editor at Faber and Faber, to go through the edits on my forthcoming novel. I don’t yet know what we’ll be doing for the cover of The Fountain in the Forest, but watch this space.

Incidentally, if like me you are into this kind of thing, there’s a great coffee table book of Faber and Faber cover design put together by the novelist Joseph Connolly.

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Buy Foxy-T direct from Faber and Faber

16047-books-origjpgPraise for Foxy-T

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Buy Faber and Faber: Eighty Years of Book Cover Design, by Joseph Connolly

The Holborn Cenotaph

Last time I gave a reading of this satirical short story — at Bow Arts on 1 December — there were 1,583 names on ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’. Now, today, there are 1,594.holbcenotourt2016final

Listen to ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ live on the Speakers’ Corner stage at London Radical Bookfair, Goldsmith’s, University of London, 7 May 2016.

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I am always happy to hear from anyone about a reading or a talk. So do feel free to get in touch. (For more info see this note about bookings.)

Franco Rosso (29 August 1941–9 December 2016)

Dread Beat an' Blood, dvd sleeve

I was very sorry to hear of the death of film director Franco Rosso, via this Guardian obituary; condolences to his friends and family.

Best known for directing the British feature film Babylon, Rosso also directed an indispensable documentary on poet Linton Kwesi Johnson for the Arts Council (then the Arts Council of Great Britain, now Arts Council England).

I am lucky enough to have a copy of the film on a Japanese DVD, but it is (or was) also bundled as a DVD extra on SOME editions of Babylon, however I think these are mainly out of print.

Thus I was delighted to discover that the film is now available to view in the UK on the BFI player (for a nominal charge of £1).

It is a great film—and one that I frequently refer to—which captures LKJ at a transformational moment in his life and work.

I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Here is a short extract released by the BFI.

Launch: The Bowie Neurotransmitter by Susana Medina

medinapoppcoverroughPiece of Paper Press is delighted to present the first publication (in a limited, numbered edition of 150) of ‘The Bowie Neurotransmitter’, a new text work by the author Susana Medina. ‘The Bowie Neurotransmitter’ will be launched with an event at London’s Bookartbookshop on the evening of Tuesday 10 January 2017, the first anniversary of David Bowie’s death.

Medina’s acute and evocative account of initially adolescent engagements with Bowie’s work—and the ‘fantasy of rapport’ he created—transcends nostalgia, and ‘The Bowie Neurotransmitter’ is at once personal and profound.

For Medina, David Bowie is ‘fundamentally political’. She writes:

There’s a politics of the self, and a politics of outrage. Bowie has been fundamental in my life. I discovered his songs in my adolescence, a time of crisis and rupture which marks loss of innocence. I learnt English with Bowie by translating most of his early LPs and singing along with him. Throughout the years, with gaps here and there, I often returned to his songs and wept.
Like many of us who love Bowie’s music, I was devastated on the 11th January 2016. Not having posted anything for ages in Facebook, I began sharing a series of posts and a friend emailed me, saying how saddened she was too and that it was a mystery how the communal sadness seemed overwhelming and yet, ‘he never had a message of “peace and love”.’ I quickly replied that oh, yes he did, quoting a few relevant songs. A longer reply continued to grow in my head over the following days. I started writing, and found myself writing a tribute. This piece became a love letter, a thank you letter, a way to dissect my tears and a proud homage to all those who feel part of the Bowie lineage.

Part of the print run of the Piece of Paper Press edition of ‘The Bowie Neurotransmitter’ by Susana Medina will be distributed free at the launch, while stocks last.

DOWNLOAD THE PRESS RELEASE HERE

SUSANA MEDINA is the author of Philosophical Toys (Dalkey Archive Press), offspring of which are the short films Buñuel’s Philosophical Toys and Leather-bound Stories (co-directed with Derek Ogbourne). Other books include Red Tales / Cuentos Rojos (published in a bilingual edition, co-translated with Rosie Marteau) and Souvenirs del Accidente. Medina’s story ‘Oestrogen’ featured in Best European Fiction 2014 (Dalkey Archive Press). She has been awarded the Max Aub Short Story International Prize and a Grants for the Arts award from Arts Council England for her novel Spinning Days of Night. ‘Object Lessons’, an audio-visual story produced in collaboration with photographer Paul Louis Archer was recently published in El País in English. ‘Poem 66’, translated by R. Marteau, was runner-up in the Goodmorning Menagerie Translation Contest and will be published by the USA Press on 14 February 2017. Medina has also published a number of essays on literature, art, cinema, and photography, curated various well-received international art shows in abandoned spaces, contributed texts to art catalogues, exhibited at Tate Modern, and collaborated with numerous artists. Her website is www.susanamedina.net.

PIECE OF PAPER PRESS was created by author Tony White in 1994 as a lo-tech, sustainable artists’ book project to commission and publish new writings, visual and graphic works by artists and writers. Each book is manufactured from a single A4 sheet that is printed on both sides using a photocopier or a domestic printer, and then folded, stapled and trimmed by hand to create the book. Piece of Paper Press titles are always distributed free.

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Susana Medina,
The Bowie Neurotransmitter, launch event
Bookartbookshop, 17 Pitfield St, London N1 6HB
Tuesday 10 January 2017, 6:30–8:00 p.m. (reading 7:15)

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‘High-Lands’—live at TULCA 2016

It was a great thrill to collaborate with New Pope for the TULCA Festival of Visual Arts in Galway a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the audio of ‘High-Lands’, recorded live at the Galway Mechanics’ Institute, November 11 2016. The sound engineer was John Burke.

tony-white_new-pope-stills-5tony-white_new-pope-stills-3tony-white_new-pope-stills-4

New Pope is a songwriter dealing in melodic indie dream pop and sometimes folk. Onstage he is joined by Colm Bohan on percussion and Stephen Connolly on organ and guitar.

a4289365853_16Released in December 2015, New Pope’s debut album YOUTH was named number 13 in the nialler9 Reader’s Best Irish Albums of 2015, number 23 in The Thin Air’s Irish releases of the year and Release of the Week in The Irish Times.

‘Onwards, Westwards’ – the opening track from YOUTH – featured on the soundtrack to Baked In Brooklyn (2016) starring Josh Brener (Silicon Valley) & Alexandra Daddario (True Detective).

‘New Pope is a treat that has left a now totally full yet utterly silent room entranced.’ (Eoin Murray, The Thin Air, Róisín Dubh, 2015)

9781472453914‘High-Lands’ was originally commissioned in 2014 by London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4fm as part of Remote Performances and broadcast live from Outlandia, a unique artists’ field-station in Glen Nevis, Lochaber, Scotland. The story also draws on research undertaken as part of a loose collaboration with Stuart Brisley, Maya Balcioglu and Dr Sanja Perovic of King’s College London, that was made possible by my residency at King’s College London in 2013-14, which was funded by Creativeworks London.

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‘High-Lands’ is also collected in the critical anthology, Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture, edited by Bruce Gilchrist, Jo Joelson and Tracey Warr (Ashgate/Routledge, 2015)

 

‘Writing police wrongs’ at Housmans

Having just taken ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ to Galway in Ireland for my event at the TULCA Festival of Visual Arts (guest-curated this year by Daniel Jewesbury), I am really looking forward to bringing it back to London, where I am taking part in Housmans Bookshop’s ‘Writing police wrongs’ event on Saturday 26 November with Courttia Newland.

holborncentwitterbannernov16

Housmans approached me with the idea of doing an event following my reading at the London Radical Bookfair back in May, and so I am very pleased—together with Courttia Newland—to have been able to take up their invitation. If you don’t know it, Housmans promotes the work of authors and organisations whose ideas and messages are in keeping with the shop’s progressive and pacifist ethos. One of the central ways in which they do this is via their evening events at the shop. Courttia’s and my event continues their new regular series of events focusing on poetry and on radical and alternative literature, The Locomotrix, ‘Where the I is the public, where the I is things, where the I is the things that happen…’

Here’s the blurb:

Courttia2015(1)London authors Courttia Newland and Tony White both burst on to the literary scene in the late 1990s. Since then their paths have crossed occasionally, most recently when they discovered that they had each been writing fiction which addresses—each in their own ways—the controversial issue of deaths in police custody in the UK today.

Courttia Newland will be reading his powerful short story ‘Reversible’ from the new Sex and Death anthology edited by Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs and published by Faber and Faber. Tony White will be reading ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’, a short story which uses the language and performance of contemporary law enforcement and policy to frame a satirical proposition that has been described by one audience member as ‘jaw dropping’.

The readings will be followed by discussion. Newland and White are both accomplished readers of their fiction, so come along to Housman’s to hear, and to be entertained and provoked—and to chat with—two of the best contemporary novelists around.

All are welcome, do please come along. More info here or below.

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ICYMI here is Courttia Newland’s Royal Literary Fund Lecture for February’s groundbreaking Bare Lit Festival at the Free Word Centre, London.

Courttia Newland and Tony White, Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London N1 9DX, Saturday 26 November, 6:30pm. Entry £3, redeemable against any purchase

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