Pavilion Digest: August 2009

A plethora of perplexing pavilion posts. The Pavilion Annex thread, the Pavilion Discussion thread, and monthly digests of all messages from the Pavilion.

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markabaddon
Posts: 1790
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:24 pm

Postby markabaddon » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:45 am

Name: Mark Goldberg
Source: unca20091007.htm
Harlan,

My initial reaction when I saw the cover was "oh boy, this ain't going to go over well in Poughkeepsie". It is challenging, disturbing and in your face, which I would define as characteristics present in all great art from any medium, but I am not sure the fallout would be worth using the image in this case. As Mike Valerio and Michael Rappaport have stated, and I agree with, if the book were released with this cover the attention would be placed on the artwork and not the stories to be found within its pages.

The swastika, while a symbol much older than 1930s Germany, has been transformed into what the majority of the world views as a representation of evil in its purest form. Using that iconography will always generate a ton of attention, are you sure you want that shitstorm directed your way?

The book is yours to do with as you will; just know that you have my support and patronage whatever you decide.

I am truly humbled by all the kind words and support I have received in regard to my Mom's situation. Saying "thank you" does not begin to cover it, but is at least a start. This is a wonderful community and I am proud to be a part of it

All the best,

Mark


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markabaddon
Posts: 1790
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:24 pm

Postby markabaddon » Fri Aug 14, 2009 5:45 am

Name: Mark Goldberg
Source: unca20091009.htm
Harlan,

My initial reaction when I saw the cover was "oh boy, this ain't going to go over well in Poughkeepsie". It is challenging, disturbing and in your face, which I would define as characteristics present in all great art from any medium, but I am not sure the fallout would be worth using the image in this case. As Mike Valerio and Michael Rappaport have stated, and I agree with, if the book were released with this cover the attention would be placed on the artwork and not the stories to be found within its pages.

The swastika, while a symbol much older than 1930s Germany, has been transformed into what the majority of the world views as a representation of evil in its purest form. Using that iconography will always generate a ton of attention, are you sure you want that shitstorm directed your way?

The book is yours to do with as you will; just know that you have my support and patronage whatever you decide.

I am truly humbled by all the kind words and support I have received in regard to my Mom's situation. Saying "thank you" does not begin to cover it, but is at least a start. This is a wonderful community and I am proud to be a part of it

All the best,

Mark


M Jacka
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 8:21 am

Postby M Jacka » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:12 am

Name: Mike Jacka
Source: unca20091007.htm
If

Harlan called me up right now and said, Mike. What do you think of the cover? Id, first, pick myself up from the floor, and then reply as follows:

Great cover. Fascinating image that grabs the attention and makes me think. Only question/concern I had was that some browsers might look at the cover and think, Looks like another book of alternate histories. But, Harlan, thats really beside the point. As someone else has mentioned, why are you even questioning yourself? You love the cover and you, of anyone, have earned the right to do any damned thing you want. Apparently, people you respect are questioning this decision. (I am assuming that, if you didnt respect them, the question would not come up.) But you have to weigh your respect for their comments with the reasons you want to use this cover in the first place. I am concerned that the only thing our discussions (I like it. I dont. I think it should have more flowers. I think he should be painting roses.) will do is make you question yourself more. You know why you liked it. You know why it hit you where you wanted everyone else to be hit. And, unless those you respect have sold you on solid reasons to change, then go with your gut. (75 years of gut should be worth something.)

(By the way dont try and call for a while. Im out of town for the weekend.)

Mike

M Jacka
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2003 8:21 am

Postby M Jacka » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:12 am

Name: Mike Jacka
Source: unca20091009.htm
If

Harlan called me up right now and said, Mike. What do you think of the cover? Id, first, pick myself up from the floor, and then reply as follows:

Great cover. Fascinating image that grabs the attention and makes me think. Only question/concern I had was that some browsers might look at the cover and think, Looks like another book of alternate histories. But, Harlan, thats really beside the point. As someone else has mentioned, why are you even questioning yourself? You love the cover and you, of anyone, have earned the right to do any damned thing you want. Apparently, people you respect are questioning this decision. (I am assuming that, if you didnt respect them, the question would not come up.) But you have to weigh your respect for their comments with the reasons you want to use this cover in the first place. I am concerned that the only thing our discussions (I like it. I dont. I think it should have more flowers. I think he should be painting roses.) will do is make you question yourself more. You know why you liked it. You know why it hit you where you wanted everyone else to be hit. And, unless those you respect have sold you on solid reasons to change, then go with your gut. (75 years of gut should be worth something.)

(By the way dont try and call for a while. Im out of town for the weekend.)

Mike

Mark Haden Frazer

Fish Head Cover

Postby Mark Haden Frazer » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:13 am

Name: Mark Haden Frazer
Source: unca20091007.htm
The swastika is the dominant image here; More so than the wonky title or the empty uniform - and since we live in a world that seems far more concerned with surface than with substance, I can easily see how this might come back to bite you in the ass. Hard.

At best, people (who are not familiar with your work, of course) are going to think this book is some academic & long-winded historical twaddle about Catholics & Nazis skipping through the daisy fields together. At worst, it is going to be perceived as promoting the growing white supremacist movement of slack-jawed dimwits & dullards all across this great land of ours - and as a consequence, will be banned from bookstores & libraries by well-meaning (but utterly clueless) liberals who are always looking for some new dragon to slay.

I think under the circumstances, you have to ask yourself what is more important here: The potential creation of a controversy that focuses on a cover image, one that (I'm assuming here) has little to do the contents - or getting the words & the stories out and into the hands of as many people as possible.

If it were up to me, I'd go with something more offbeat & befitting of the title. Of course, I'm gonna buy the damn thing regardless, even if the cover ends up being a photoshopped rendition of a zombie Lee Atwater at the forefront of a butt-fucking train of well-known GOPers in 3-D.

Uh... but don't go there, either, okay?


Mark Haden Frazer

Fish Head Cover

Postby Mark Haden Frazer » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:13 am

Name: Mark Haden Frazer
Source: unca20091009.htm
The swastika is the dominant image here; More so than the wonky title or the empty uniform - and since we live in a world that seems far more concerned with surface than with substance, I can easily see how this might come back to bite you in the ass. Hard.

At best, people (who are not familiar with your work, of course) are going to think this book is some academic & long-winded historical twaddle about Catholics & Nazis skipping through the daisy fields together. At worst, it is going to be perceived as promoting the growing white supremacist movement of slack-jawed dimwits & dullards all across this great land of ours - and as a consequence, will be banned from bookstores & libraries by well-meaning (but utterly clueless) liberals who are always looking for some new dragon to slay.

I think under the circumstances, you have to ask yourself what is more important here: The potential creation of a controversy that focuses on a cover image, one that (I'm assuming here) has little to do the contents - or getting the words & the stories out and into the hands of as many people as possible.

If it were up to me, I'd go with something more offbeat & befitting of the title. Of course, I'm gonna buy the damn thing regardless, even if the cover ends up being a photoshopped rendition of a zombie Lee Atwater at the forefront of a butt-fucking train of well-known GOPers in 3-D.

Uh... but don't go there, either, okay?


Gwyneth

_A Fish-Head In Aspic_ cover art

Postby Gwyneth » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:32 am

Name: Gwyneth
Source: unca20091007.htm
Dear Unca' Harlan,

I agree with Richard Cohen--lots of books use swastikas as cover art for the shock value, or to let the reader know that Nazis have something to do with the book.

My first impression: "Hitler Painted Roses" and "A Prayer for No One's Enemy"

You have already established your credentials as a Pro-Semite. (Sorry for the awkward coinage, sounds like a cross between an anti-depressant and an erectile dysfunction drug.) No one who knows your work would think you're a Nazi. People who are fascinated by Nazis (and evil is a powerful draw), will pick up the book.

I did not like the font, but you've already said that it will be different in the final copy. I found it distracted from the image to be placed in the middle of the book's cover. I could envision _A Fish-Head In Aspic_ at the top of the book's cover, with Harlan Ellison at the bottom, to frame the artwork and increase its curiosity/shock value.

It's a hella great title, especially given the onomatopoeia of the sizzle of "aspic" to "acid". (Also, apt assonance's artful aid! ;) ) (I think the average Joe will have to look up "aspic" in a dictionary. This is not a bad thing.)

My preference is: Use the cover art, it's dynamite, but have the font framing the graphic instead of cutting it in half.

The right wingnuts protesting at health insurance reform debates HAVE been using Nazi imagery--but IMHO, that is a relic of racism and "white power". You use it to shock the reader into picking up the book. This cover would make me pick up the book, even if I didn't know your work.

Gwyneth

Gwyneth

_A Fish-Head In Aspic_ cover art

Postby Gwyneth » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:32 am

Name: Gwyneth
Source: unca20091009.htm
Dear Unca' Harlan,

I agree with Richard Cohen--lots of books use swastikas as cover art for the shock value, or to let the reader know that Nazis have something to do with the book.

My first impression: "Hitler Painted Roses" and "A Prayer for No One's Enemy"

You have already established your credentials as a Pro-Semite. (Sorry for the awkward coinage, sounds like a cross between an anti-depressant and an erectile dysfunction drug.) No one who knows your work would think you're a Nazi. People who are fascinated by Nazis (and evil is a powerful draw), will pick up the book.

I did not like the font, but you've already said that it will be different in the final copy. I found it distracted from the image to be placed in the middle of the book's cover. I could envision _A Fish-Head In Aspic_ at the top of the book's cover, with Harlan Ellison at the bottom, to frame the artwork and increase its curiosity/shock value.

It's a hella great title, especially given the onomatopoeia of the sizzle of "aspic" to "acid". (Also, apt assonance's artful aid! ;) ) (I think the average Joe will have to look up "aspic" in a dictionary. This is not a bad thing.)

My preference is: Use the cover art, it's dynamite, but have the font framing the graphic instead of cutting it in half.

The right wingnuts protesting at health insurance reform debates HAVE been using Nazi imagery--but IMHO, that is a relic of racism and "white power". You use it to shock the reader into picking up the book. This cover would make me pick up the book, even if I didn't know your work.

Gwyneth

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Samuel John Klein
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Book Meet Cover; Cover Meet Webderlanders

Postby Samuel John Klein » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:21 am

Name: Samuel John Klein
Source: unca20091007.htm
Wow. This is without a doubt one of the most compelling questions I've ever countered. I have long been advised not to judge a book by its cover. Now I'm asked (if indirectly) to judge a cover without its book!

ANSWER ABSTRACT: The cover art choice is compelling, amazing, intriguing, somewhat maddening. Not only do I like the type (I would lobby to keep this typeface it works with this image) but the way it goes across the middle sets up a strong structure.

The type is in the right place to prevent this as being seen as anything more than an indictment of what it's portraying. The reason I like the typeface is because it combines with the nature of the painting itself the neutralized palette, the way it feels "scuffed" to my eyes - to make it a grim, serious statement and the type style helps to make the whole thing feel like it has one foot in the past, and one foot in the future.

DAMN THE TORPEDOES, FULL COVER AHEAD! And please think about staying with that typeface or something very similar.

Sam Klein.

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Samuel John Klein
Posts: 342
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:43 am
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

Book Meet Cover; Cover Meet Webderlanders

Postby Samuel John Klein » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:21 am

Name: Samuel John Klein
Source: unca20091009.htm
Wow. This is without a doubt one of the most compelling questions I've ever countered. I have long been advised not to judge a book by its cover. Now I'm asked (if indirectly) to judge a cover without its book!

ANSWER ABSTRACT: The cover art choice is compelling, amazing, intriguing, somewhat maddening. Not only do I like the type (I would lobby to keep this typeface it works with this image) but the way it goes across the middle sets up a strong structure.

The type is in the right place to prevent this as being seen as anything more than an indictment of what it's portraying. The reason I like the typeface is because it combines with the nature of the painting itself the neutralized palette, the way it feels "scuffed" to my eyes - to make it a grim, serious statement and the type style helps to make the whole thing feel like it has one foot in the past, and one foot in the future.

DAMN THE TORPEDOES, FULL COVER AHEAD! And please think about staying with that typeface or something very similar.

Sam Klein.

Seth

fish-heads, fish-heads, rolly-polly fish-heads...

Postby Seth » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:55 am

Name: Seth
Source: unca20091007.htm
dig the cover. not like you need anybody here to say this, but push for that and shove 'em hard. that'll jump off the shelves and trout-slap 'em. keep the font, too, if you can - it says nearly as much as the painting itself.

Seth

fish-heads, fish-heads, rolly-polly fish-heads...

Postby Seth » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:55 am

Name: Seth
Source: unca20091009.htm
dig the cover. not like you need anybody here to say this, but push for that and shove 'em hard. that'll jump off the shelves and trout-slap 'em. keep the font, too, if you can - it says nearly as much as the painting itself.

Andrew Fuller

The Cover

Postby Andrew Fuller » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:30 am

Name: Andrew Fuller
Source: unca20091007.htm
I earn my day job dollars as a graphic designer, and have designed a few book covers, so I'll put on that personnel badge for a sec.

My initial thought was, Where is the speculative aspect to this cover design? What signals to me that this volume contains stories of the fantastique, of new magical realism-ish quality, not soap opera tales of graduate students pontificating about the ennui of ordinary life and academia. (You know, if I didn't know who HE was and what he writes.)

It took me too many fractions of a second to realize that the man in uniform was headless. The emptiness of the uniform is great satire. And visually, the symbol implies the head shape. But perhaps the swastika has such unsettling cultural meaning that it overshadows the metaphor of the cover concept.

The illustration is skilled and grand. And it would pain me to ask the artist to start again. But a different "shot" without the swastika as the centerpiece could tell the message less overtly. Idea #1: the uniform posed with left shoulder forward so a (small) swastika on the armband is visible, and empty blackness floating above the neckline (or a fish-shaped jello mold for a head, if you are in the literal design school). Idea #2: a wide shot of a stadium stage backed by multiple long swastika banners, and the empty uniform orating powerfully from a podium, one arm outstretched in a sig heil... ending in an empty sleeve, orating a big nothing to the masses (the angle of the shot could place one of the banner swastikas directly behind the headlessness).

Many people will have to look up "aspic." And sadly, they won't. Of course they'll then miss the concept entirely.

If you go with this cover design, I would place the title type differently. Author's name along the top, title in the middle. Or at least author's name in a different type weight. But I'm sure Arnie Fenner can do this and better in his sleep.

Andrew Fuller

The Cover

Postby Andrew Fuller » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:30 am

Name: Andrew Fuller
Source: unca20091009.htm
I earn my day job dollars as a graphic designer, and have designed a few book covers, so I'll put on that personnel badge for a sec.

My initial thought was, Where is the speculative aspect to this cover design? What signals to me that this volume contains stories of the fantastique, of new magical realism-ish quality, not soap opera tales of graduate students pontificating about the ennui of ordinary life and academia. (You know, if I didn't know who HE was and what he writes.)

It took me too many fractions of a second to realize that the man in uniform was headless. The emptiness of the uniform is great satire. And visually, the symbol implies the head shape. But perhaps the swastika has such unsettling cultural meaning that it overshadows the metaphor of the cover concept.

The illustration is skilled and grand. And it would pain me to ask the artist to start again. But a different "shot" without the swastika as the centerpiece could tell the message less overtly. Idea #1: the uniform posed with left shoulder forward so a (small) swastika on the armband is visible, and empty blackness floating above the neckline (or a fish-shaped jello mold for a head, if you are in the literal design school). Idea #2: a wide shot of a stadium stage backed by multiple long swastika banners, and the empty uniform orating powerfully from a podium, one arm outstretched in a sig heil... ending in an empty sleeve, orating a big nothing to the masses (the angle of the shot could place one of the banner swastikas directly behind the headlessness).

Many people will have to look up "aspic." And sadly, they won't. Of course they'll then miss the concept entirely.

If you go with this cover design, I would place the title type differently. Author's name along the top, title in the middle. Or at least author's name in a different type weight. But I'm sure Arnie Fenner can do this and better in his sleep.

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John E Williams
Posts: 210
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 9:34 am

Postby John E Williams » Fri Aug 14, 2009 8:55 am

Name: JohnEWilliams
Source: unca20091007.htm
I too am a graphic artist, so my professional reaction is that I don't think much of that font. I'd also put it closer to the bottom of the image. Your mileage, etc.

As for the other aspects: "back off" from whom? I'd say Harlan is pretty well-covered -- a well-established Jewish writer can be expected to handle the concept of swastikas and Nazis responsibly, regardless of the times.

The bottom line is that if Harlan feels the cover properly expresses his vision, then it should go out as is, period. Life's too short.


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