I've gotten to the point now where I no longer need to tell you, non existent reader, what I read in book club this month. From this point on, you, non existent reader, can just assume what I write about here is what I read with my friends once a month.
I do not recommend opening Delicious Foods until you have a solid block of time where you can just sit and read it for hours, preferably outside in the not too hot sun, drinking iced coffee—if you can, though iced tea sounds nice too. I learned this later, while sitting in my backyard, which presents more brown than green these days (we are in a drought after all), just finally ready to take the majority of the story in. I made the mistake early on, of starting this one in small increments of time, while eating breakfast and reading it before bed. These slots of time do not bode well with this novel, for it is fast paced most of the time, jumping in and out of plot lines, perspectives and time in general—which might make you wonder what just happened and who the hell Scotty is…until you see what Hannaham did there.
S U M M A R Y (from Amazon):
In Delicious Foods, James Hannaham tells the gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son, and the drug that threatens to destroy them. Through Darlene's haunted struggle to reunite with Eddie, through the efforts of both to triumph over those who would enslave them, and through the irreverent and mischievous voice of the drug that narrates Darlene's travails, Hannaham's daring and shape-shifting prose infuses this harrowing experience with grace and humor.
C O V E R
At first glance this cover is really great—the diagonal type and the positioning makes the scene active and playful, the space surrounding the elements is sufficient making it easier to read, the colors are simple with a subtle texture hidden within the forms and it pulls a scene right out of the book. My issue though, lies mostly with the clean and playful illustration itself and its relationship to the context of the book. The main characters have gone through the worst shit and have been to hell and back again, and by the designer putting a clean illustration on the cover, which portrays a literal scene in the novel (not always a bad thing), it is hard to get much out of it. I don't mean this in a bad way, I personally just have an aversion towards silhouettes. If I didn't, I think the cover would be great, for the cover appears to be an homage to the work of Kara Walker—paper cut out silhouettes which reveal the history of American slavery and racism. I know most of you, non existent readers, could probably care less because a cover is a cover, what matters is the story. It's fine, you're right, but I can't help these things. It's all subjective anyway, until you start throwing numbers at it.
Since the cover wasn't quite right IMO, I created a new version of what I envisioned while reading the book (above). It connects more with the tone and experience—like a pair of hands that have been splintered and cracked, dried out and blistered though years of nonstop labour, within the eerie confines of the company which calls themselves, Delicious Foods. Here, a formerly playful cover has been transformed into adventurous one, because one moment you might find yourself driving yourself the fuck out of nowhere, leaving those very hands behind you. It's gonna be messy.
T Y P O G R A P H Y:
Although the cover wasn't my favorite for the novel, the typography was well done. One of my biggest pet peeves, like most designers, is when there are too many typefaces used throughout the book, something so obvious I shouldn't even be saying it (see The Answer to the Riddle is Me). With Delicious Foods, it looks as though there either was clear communication between between the book designer and the cover designer, they actually had a good manager, or maybe had a designer whom easily adapted to what was given to them—all of these things which can easily be taken for granted. These two typefaces worked hand in hand, inside and outside of the book to create consistency, the cover type was even used for the chapter headings, so considerate of them we don't even realize it.
The main typefaces used, were 5 AM Gender Regular for the cover, which has a really great description of the typeface in the link to MyFonts, and Fairfield for the body copy. I say these typefaces with confidence because the forms look consistent with the ones in the book, though there is a possibility it might be inaccurate…but we'll never know for sure since there was no typeface credited anywhere in the book: not the inner sleeve, not the copyright page and definitely not the non existent colophon. Yeah, I'm gonna be that annoying designer for a minute, because even though it may seem inconsequential, it's just rude…more rude than removing the credit of whosever image you're reblogging on Tumblr, TBH. These things take time, and it is what ultimately decides the color of the novel, in terms of type anyway.
L A S T W O R D S:
After reading in the sun with sunscreen on, I realized it probably wasn't the best idea to be holding the book without the jacket. But it made me realize the book is even better without the cover, I mean, it usually is because who actually likes jackets anyway? But when you take the cover off and carry the book with you, at least it isn't pretending to be clean. Let the natural oils from your skin, along with your sweat and your sunscreen seep into it. Take it to hell and back…at least take it out in the sun.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. Will it be the realest friend you have throughout summer? Absolutely, as long as you stay away from Scotty.