Monday, January 17, 2011

STACK 2: Hope Deferred, Great House, Newly Translated Classics


As the bleakness of winter creeps in, let's take a look back at some Fall 2010 releases in an assortment of autumnal hues.

Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives (McSweeney's / Voice of Wintess, 2010)
Nicole Krauss,
Great House (Norton ARC, 2010)
Gustave Flaubert,
Madame Bovary, translated by Lydia Davis (Viking, 2010)
Boris Pasternak,
Doctor Zhivago, translated by Pevear and Volokhonsky (Pantheon, 2010)

Currently Reading:
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (trans. by Pevear and Volokhnosky)
The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Currently listening to:
The Veils, "Troubles of the Brain"
Robyn Hitchcock, "A Bad Case of History (live)"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wyndham Lewis - BLAST 1 and the Vorticist Movement (Black Sparrow reprint)

Wyndham Lewis is an artistic and literary figure from the early 20th century and the co-founder of the Vorticist movement in England. I discovered BLAST through my love of Black Sparrow Press-- they've made a number of reprints of the Vorticist literary magazine in a large-format paperback. It's a fascinating journal and includes contributions from Ezra Pound and a pre-pen-named Ford Maddox Ford ("The Saddest Story" by Ford Maddox Heuffer).

First published in 1914, BLAST deals predominantly with shaking 19th-century Victorian ideals and pushing England towards a socially evolved future. The Vorticists take this attitude and inject it into both their literature and visual art. BLAST is the physical emblem of that injection; it combines wildly typographic manifestos and futurist paintings into a dizzying political art journal.


Currently Reading:
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (trans. by Pevear and Volokhnosky)
The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Currently listening to:
The Veils, "Troubles of the Brain"
Robyn Hitchcock, "A Bad Case of History (live)"

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Custom Osamu Tezuka clamshell for "ADOLF"

It's been a while! I remember last year I took an unexpected hiatus from the blog as well-- the lack of posts this December was not intended, but I'm looking forward to getting back into the routine of this blog. Things are stabilizing nicely in my life and I imagine I'll have a bit more time to focus on my books in 2011.

I've been making a big effort to keep myself busy with various projects during my days off from work, and am very excited to share with you the results of a recent craft project.

I've been having some aesthetic trouble with a few of the books in my collection. Readers of the blog may know that I am big fan of Osamu Tezuka's manga, and have collected much of his translated work. In the 80s, Tezuka published a 5-volume series called Adolf; it's a very mature (and very dark) World War II epic set in Japan. The story revolves around two childhood friends (both named Adolf) and how their heritage comes between them as the war unfolds. It's exquisitely written and highly recommend to any graphic novel fans... if you can find them.

For some reason, the complete run of Adolf is incredibly difficult to find at a reasonable price. The first volume in particular seems to have experienced a short print run, and although volumes 2-5 are fairly accessible it forces Tezuka fans to make a difficult decision: do you shell out for a copy of the rare volume one, or skip the prologue and begin with volume two?

I was lucky enough to snag the full run on eBay for an amazing price, but that feeling of pride from a book-hunting success was hushed when I finally received the books in the mail. I had my suspicions, but in person it was a lot worse: these books are some of the ugliest things I've ever seen.

So, I built myself a custom clamshell for the five volumes. I'd never tried any kind of book-binding project before, but I always wanted to. In person, you can see a number of blemishes, but I'm really proud of how it turned out!

Here is the case, closed:


Opened:



And lastly, what it looks like with the books removed:

Not bad for my first try! I've learned a lot for the next time I try to make a clamshell, so hopefully these will continue to get better. Maybe someday I'll be able to involve a letterpress, some detailing on the outside, and so on.

Happy New Year to everyone, and stay tuned for more!


Currently reading:
Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak (trans. by Pevear and Volokhonsky)

Currently listening to:
"The Top" by The Cure