a trip to the museum

i went to the museum of contemporary art this past weekend. there was a wonderful exhibit of jim nutt's work at the museum, punctuated with incredible portraits of imaginary women. they are executed beautifully, all gloss and precision, careful brushstrokes and striking colors. included in a jim nutt companion exhibit at the mca were some pieces by gladys nilsson. jim & gladys were both a part of the chicago imagists who wound up calling themselves the "hairy who." they were also married. i admired both of their styles, so i put them together here.

now... no more talking. what do you think?

 jim nutt

gladys nilsson

you can read a description of the exhibit here and see some more information on the hairy who here.


one saturday morsel: gradation nation

too bad gradation isn't a prettier word. i just figured out the other day that one of my favorite words is plinth. that is also kind of sad, because a plinth is not anything very special. but the word reminds me of... // vines // mint // plums // leaves // ...even though it means "a base or platform on which rests a column, pedestal, statue, monument, or structure." hmm.

anyway, that is not what i was going to talk about. no no. gradation! that is what we're here to see. it can be done very creatively and in much more interesting, artistic ways than via computer. THIS is what i wanted to show you:

these are illustrations from a book called where is everybody?, by remy charlip. thank you to stopping off place for these images... now a few more people know about this sweet book, which is literally about 10 pages long. or perhaps even eight pages.

and that, my readers, is why i wish gradation was a prettier word.
enjoy saturday fully—!


franz + peter

franz kafka wrote some good stories. occasionally his books get to have good covers. have you seen the penguin classics cover for the metamorphosis? (i love penguin almost too much.)

isn't that so good? i am so in love with their covers designed by graphic novelists/artists.

well, the other day on pinterest i noticed some different kafka covers appearing here and there. when i went to the place from whence they came, i realized that it is the blog of book designer / art director peter mendelsund. he works for knopf and pantheon. basically he has what i'm coming to believe is my dream job. —anyway, he just finished designing a new set of kafka's works for schocken books.* and they are brilliant! have a look. what do you think?

i think they are pretty clever. something about an eye staring at you / other people in the room from the cover of a book seems very appropriate for kafka. as mendelsund says himself over at jacket mechanical,
I find eyes, taken in the singular, create intimacy, and in the plural instill paranoia. This seemed a good combo for Kafka- who is so very adept at the portrayal of the individual, as well as the portrayal of the persecution of the individual.
now: everyone go off and have a marvelous weekend. it's here at last. cheers!

*just so i don't sound dumb, pantheon and schocken are both imprints of knopf.


who wants a dingy woman?

it is a little early, but i just want to suggest that if you are going to get a significant other something for valentine's day, it had better be something extremely rich and chocolaty and creamy, OR one of these books:

(it reads, "his eyes were positively blazing. the red light in them was lurid,
as if the flames of hell fire blazed behind them.")

last year, penguin collaborated with the AIDS awareness fund (RED) and produced, with the help of some very talented and wonderful designers, these beautiful covers. three were created in-house at penguin and the rest were done by the likes of FUEL, Nathan Burton, Studio Frith, Grey318, and Non-Format.

if you purchase one of these volumes some of your money will go towards AIDS research, and the rest will go towards your significant other / sister / brother / mom / dad / best pal cruising into springtime with a book to read that not only is a classic, but is fabulous-looking. it is the type of situation we call a win-win. and more are on the way, in case you're not already won over.

and that is the last you'll hear from me about valentine's day. i promise.
happy almost-friday.


how novel!


postertext has made a marvel by creating a key image out of negative space and setting it against a backdrop of the works of authors such as sir arthur conan doyle and james joyce and louisa may alcott. and, all punniness aside, they are very cool and perfect for bookish folk such as yours truly. have a look yourself:

 moby dick


 the great gatsby


war of the worlds

so, for example, the grey columns behind the white aliens above are comprised of the text of the first so many chapters of h.g. welles' epic tale. the posters range in price from about $24 to $40, in case you were wondering. yet another item to covet in the world of literary-type things. (i can't get away from making inadvertent puns, forgive me.)

wednesday, you're off to a good start.


lynda b is coming to town

i am going out into the world of book events once again this evening in my official capacity as bookgirl. lynda barry is coming to town and i shall be charged with selling books and knowing things, such as book prices and where the bathrooms are and basic addition. and then i get to attend! hooray. i'm a lucky so-and-so sometimes.

now, some of you may be wondering whether you should know who lynda barry is. she is a graphic novelist and comic artist who has had quite a respectable amount of nonmainstream success. she has a bit of a cult following, much like chris ware and charles burns do. [fun fact! she went to the same high school as c. burns.] {bonus fun fact! she went to college with matt groening.}

last but not least, she is a native wisconsinite, born in richland center. (can you believe it? i almost can't.)

now: her art!

her watercolor style translates wonderfully in her stories, and her images always have a mischievous edge to them, which i love. i am very much looking forward to meeting her & hearing her speak. yay!

i hope you all enjoy your tuesday nights as much as i think i am going to enjoy mine...!
until tomorrow—


one saturday morsel: a poem

i've been reading anne sexton lately, and then i happened upon this, over at even cleveland (which is a wonderful place to go). it is from sexton's rumpelstiltskin. it is timely for me, since i've been lusting after this book lately, and since i love when authors sort of repurpose fairytales. it is somehow incredibly mind-opening to see fairytales from more of a panoramic view, instead of through the pinhole point of view of the pretty girl protagonist. so: i present... a part of anne sexton's rumpelstiltskin.

There once was a miller
with a daughter as lovely as a grape.
He told the king that she could
spin gold out of common straw.
The king summoned the girl
and locked her in a room full of straw
and told her to spin it into gold
or she would die like a criminal.
Poor grape with no one to pick.
Luscious and round and sleek.
Poor thing.
To die and never see Brooklyn.

She wept,
of course, huge aquamarine tears.
The door opened and in popped a dwarf.
He was as ugly as a wart.
Little thing, what are you? she cried.
With his tiny no-sex voice he replied:
I am a dwarf.
I have been exhibited on Bond Street
and no child will ever call me Papa.
I have no private life.
If I'm in my cups the whole town knows by breakfast
and no child will ever call me Papa
I am eighteen inches high.
I am no bigger than a partridge.
I am your evil eye
and no child will ever call me Papa.
Stop this Papa foolishness,
she cried. Can you perhaps
spin straw into gold?
Yes indeed, he said,
that I can do.
He spun the straw into gold
and she gave him her necklace
as a small reward.
When the king saw what she had done
he put her in a bigger room of straw
and threatened death once more.
Again she cried.
Again the dwarf came.
Again he spun the straw into gold.
She gave him her ring
as a small reward.
The king put her in an even bigger room
but this time he promised
to marry her if she succeeded.
Again she cried.
Again the dwarf came.
But she had nothing to give him.
Without a reward the dwarf would not spin.
He was on the scent of something bigger.
He was a regular bird dog.
Give me your first-born
and I will spin.
She thought: Piffle!
He is a silly little man.
And so she agreed.
So he did the trick.
Gold as good as Fort Knox.

The king married her
and within a year
a son was born.
He was like most new babies,
as ugly as an artichoke
but the queen thought him in pearl.
She gave him her dumb lactation,
delicate, trembling, hidden,
warm, etc.
And then the dwarf appeared
to claim his prize.
Indeed! I have become a papa!
cried the little man.
She offered him all the kingdom
but he wanted only this -
a living thing
to call his own.
And being mortal
who can blame him?

The queen cried two pails of sea water.

—anne sexton 


los azules.

on days when it feels like january will last forever, i imagine being somewhere else. i've mentioned it before, but last year, i lived in sevilla, spain. and MAN do i miss that place right now. so i rifled through my photographs and found these happy reminders.

it's not as though spain is full of buildings that look like candy, hilarious jaunty swimmers and bright, tasty days all year round... but still. deep into midwestern winter, a girl could do with a few coffee and beer breaks a day. not to mention a nice, three-hour-long siesta in the afternoon... followed by solomillo al whisky, buey a la mostaza antigua, and a tinto de verano. spaaain. you know how to live. y de ti soñaré este finde.

have a dreamy weekend.