Watercolor illustration for the cover of the Hartford Courant’s Sunday Magazine edition, Dec. 19, 1993.
Pierre, or The Ambiguities by Herman Melville. First edition hardback, Harper Collins, 1995. Color illustrations, many blatantly erotic, including the cover, by Maurice Sendak (in the mood of Billy Blake). Design by Cynthia Krupat. The editor Hershel Parker has reconstructed the original, shorter version of Pierre that Melville sabotaged (according to Parker) by adding convoluted subplots (in revenge against the Harper brothers who did not wish to publish the book). This is the so-called “Kraken Edition”; the title comes from a letter Melville sent to Hawthorne. If Moby-Dick was the whale, Pierre was his giant monstrous squid.
My Romance by Gordon Lish. 1993 Norton trade paperback. Cover design by R.D. Scudellari. There are two paragraphs in this 142-page novel; the first starts on page 1 and ends on page 142; the second begins and ends on page 142 and is all of one sentence.
Erotic Poems, an Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets collection. Borzoi/Knopf, tiny hardback 1994. Jacket design by Barbara de Wilde. Happy Valentine’s.
From Maurice Sendak’s retelling of Wilhelm Grimm’s Dear Mili.
Pierre, Herman Melville’s follow up to Moby-Dick, was, without a doubt, the most challenging, perplexing, befuddling book I read in school. I still don’t get it.
Still, I love Melville, and I love Maurice Sendak, so when I saw this unused copy of the Kraken addition for half-cover price at my favorite local used bookshop, I couldn’t resist.
Sendak’s bawdy illustrations recall William Blake to me—great stuff—although I’ll probably read Moby-Dick or The Confidence Man again before I make time for Pierre.
RIP James Gandolfini, 1961-2013
RIP to James Gandolfini, who brought sensitivity and depth to the roles he played. I don’t think The Sopranos could have existed without him. He made me laugh and cry so often in that role, never more than at the end of The Sopranos, where I experienced what I could only describe as catharsis.
Maurice Sendak’s animated intro for the 1977 film Simple Gifts was based on an earlier design for a Christmas card by the artist:
(Image and info via the very cool Michael Sporn Animation blog, with a hat tip to Jescie for sending me the link).