A discussion of the evolution of the cover for Ben Marcus’ new novel. I really want to get hold of this to review it here.

(Knopf, 2012)

When I finished writing The Flame Alphabet, Tom McCarthy’s novel C had just come out, with a dazzling jacket by Peter Mendelsund.

This confirmed what I’d been suspecting: Mendelsund is a tremendously strong, intuitive designer. I’d already drooled over a few of his jackets, including the Kafka reprints he recently completed.


And then when I met him, and we spoke a bit, I learned he was a passionate reader, a deep reader. He knew The Flame Alphabet inside and out—had read it as closely as I ever could have hoped. While we never spoke about what the design would be (what on earth would have been the point?), I knew then that my mission was very simple. I would stay the hell out of his way and let him do his thing.

He makes beautiful, inviting jackets, of course, but they are also wickedly smart…

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