June 8, 2009

It was very nice
candlelight and Dubonnet on ice

Sasha Stone, Berlin, 1928

* Marie Mundaca on designing interiors of David Foster Wallace's books. excerpt:

"Consider the Lobster was a little different. Most of the book was very typical, but there was one particular essay called 'Host' that required some special treatment. Wallace, infamous for his footnotes and endnotes, wanted to try something a little different with 'Host.' He wanted to stress the immediacy of communication and the speed of thought that occurred in the studio where the talk radio DJ John Ziegler worked. The Atlantic Monthly had already run a version of this essay and did a spectacular design job, using a format with color-coded callouts, as if someone had highlighted a script and made note in the margins. However, there are intrinsic differences between a magazine and a book. The Atlantic Monthly used color; we were not going to do that. Magazines are usually 8-1/2 x 11, and we were 6 x 9. We had to figure out a way to do this essay.

"Wallace's idea was to have leaders and labels, like a diagram. He wanted something that looked like hypertext rollovers that were immediate and at hand. I thought this whole thing might be a bit much for me to design. It seemed like it might be a full-time job. I sent it off to one of my favorite designers, who shot me an email back saying something along the lines of 'There is not enough money in the world to make me do this.'

"So I did it. Had I realized at the time that this job would entail my spending close to an hour every few weeks talking to my favorite author ever on the phone, I would have never considered giving it to anyone else. Mostly we just went over changes that needed to be made, but initially we had some very intense discussions regarding the semiotics of the leaders (the lines going from the text to the boxes) and the tics and the line width of the boxes and the ampersands. He'd leave me voice mail messages at work in the middle of the night, telling me what time I should call him the next day. One time when I called, I got his answering machine, but when I began to leave a message, he picked up. 'I heard your mellifluous voice," he said. Sometimes I'd hear the dog barking in the background. He was recently married, and he obviously relished saying 'my wife' when he would tell me about upcoming plans and where I could find him if I needed him."

* Download Miles and Trane from Stockholm, 1960.

* Literal video: Total Eclipse of the Heart.

* "It is precisely the purpose of the public opinion generated by the press to make the public incapable of judging, to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, uninformed." -- Walter Benjamin


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