God Help The Child
Book club was so hot this month, I'd say we were pretty on trend in comparison to everything else we've read thus far…if you want to put that on a timeline. I mean, I couldn't even get a paper back version of the new Toni Morrison novel, God Help The Child, granted it wasn't out at the time either, but whatever. I just had to get that hardback cover with the lovely deckled edge.
Even though it was hardback, which I'm usually opposed to for novels, I figured it was probably worth it, though I did think about getting the kindle version instead (I know, I know). Regardless of the format, I was excited to start this book because I've never read any of Toni Morrison's work, which isn't really surprising since I haven't read most well known authors outside of school. Other priorities people, it's fine. But, just as design has brought me to books, feminism eventually brought me to Morrison, with Beloved being one of the quintessential feminist reads—which shall remain on my list for a little while longer.
S U M M A R Y (from Amazon):
At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”
C O V E R:
This cover is such a drastic change from the cover from the last book, The Answer to the Riddle is Me, not in just terms of style and context, but the production quality as well. It allowed me to become immersed in the story without wondering why the designer just simply couldn't make it better. This beautiful cover was designed by Kelly Blair, who's an associate art director at Knopf and Pantheon as well as a freelance illustrator…which is cool…annnnnd we probably have the same comforter, right? Inspiration is everywhere.
The cover resembles an Eighteenth century title page, when title pages were becoming more refined, Paris being the center of production and England being the center of typographic influence—so thanks Caslon, Baskerville, Didot and Bodoni. Which reminds me, The Toast made a great list of Eighteenth Century novel titles, one being, He's Always in the Way. Always on point. But back to the cover—we could casually say this is a modernized version, of a title page with large colorful type bearing it's own character, along with lack of of white space, which is why it looks so simple and more talkative than anything. Like anything though, you can overanalyze it, omit information and make it skew in any one direction to prove a point—but, the colorful and loquacious cover does suit the novel well…it is a jacket overall.
The cover supports, in the most abstract way, the very individual perspectives within the novel, which together form the structure and development of a story; the story of abuse and how and where each person decides to place it. Okay, the last part was just thrown in there, it can't tell you all that, but isn't it nice seeing a book cover with just type on it? No photography, no loud colors and for the love of god, no lettering! It's also worth noting, the background color isn't black, it's midnight black—blue black.
T Y P O G R A P H Y :
One of the reasons why I'm lusting over this book design is because the designer, Cassandra J Pappas (who also designed Americanah) and typesetter, Scribe, were so considerate of us readers. *clouds begin to part* *sun shines down* There's a colophon. Yep. That simple paragraph at the end of the book—the finishing touch that tells us what typeface was used, along with a little information about the typeface, the typesetter, printer and designer who brought it to life for us. I haven't seen anything really close to a colophon in any of the book club books yet, the closest was in The Answer to The Riddle is Me, where the mentioned Walbaum was used on the copyright page. But it's odd when book designers don't provide that simple information, since there are more type nerds now more than ever.
Though I really shouldn't ask for more since a colophon was actually included this time, I will anyway. It would be a great addition to see why a specific typeface was selected, since there are so goddamn many of them. Just one sentence. If this one told us why they selected Granjon over anything else, I could see them simply adding, "because it ISN'T Garamond".
Like the body type will never be Garamond, the typeface on the cover will never be Didot. Why? Because beauty only takes us so far and everyone knows Didot is a cold selfish bitch (the typeface, not the man, but he probably was). Didot, Bodoni or any of the other Didone typefaces with their straight hairline serifs wouldn't accurately portray the novel, it isn't strong enough to. Straight hairlines can't support each of the different characters and their path to becoming a selfless, three dimensional human being. With that, the cover would've been better if Blair used a humanist typeface. But I would say that, I fucking love Didot.