New Arrivals: 3 BIG books from McSweeney's, Gahan Wilson & Peter de Sève

There's not much time today for a post – I'm getting things wrapped up here today before we head up to Madison for Saturday's memorial for Mark Gates.  But here's a post featuring books that somehow combine the sense of humor and the love of great writing that Mark lived for.

Three BIG objects arrived here at my3books HQ recently and they've all blown me away in one way or another.

McSweeney's Issue 33: San Francisco Panorama
edited by Dave Eggers
McSweeney's / PGW | 9781934781487 | $16 | Dec 2009

The results of a yearlong effort by the McSweeney's crew to put together the Platonic ideal of what the  Sunday edition of a newspaper could be - it's a wild success for lovers of words and images on paper.  The front sections contain investigative journalism, current affairs, infographics, and an over the top front-of-book data page.  The sports section leaves the daily stats to the web and brings readers the kind of sporting reportage that would fit right in at Sports Illustrated.  But, as you would expect, it's the Comics, Arts, and Book sections that really shine.  Contributions from Michael Chabon, Stephen King, William T. Vollmann, Miranda July, Junot Diaz, Nicholson Baker, to name a few.

Imagine a comics page with Art Spiegelman, Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, Alison Bechdel and more.  You don't have to - that's what the Panorama offers us. The Books section offers in-depth reviews and short fiction from George Saunders and Roddy Doyle, among others, and poetry - all showcased in an innovative layout.

McSweeney's has moved on as they always do - the next issue of their journal will undoubtedly appear in some other format - but this experiment shows one possible way that printed newspapers can survive and thrive and inspire.

You can see more here on the microsite that McSweeney's put together for the Panorama.


Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons
by Gahan Wilson
Fantagraphics Books / Norton | 9781606992982 | $125 | Jan 2010

A monster production, a slipcased behemoth, nearly 1000 pages in three volumes, with deliciously wicked humor on every page.  The slipcase has a plexiglass cutout on one side with a photo of Gahan Wilson fighting to be freed from his box.  Introductions by Neil Gaiman and Hugh Hefner each open two of the volumes.  The third includes an interview with Wilson.

Open the box, free the three volumes, and dive in anywhere.  You will not be disappointed.

Fantagraphics has posted a photo and video slideshow on Flickr of the box set with sample images from the book for the curious.


A Sketchy Past: The Art of Peter de Sève
by Peter de Sève
Editions Akileos / SCB Distributors | 9782355740992 | $54.95 | published in France in October 2009, and imported and reviewed here already, but officially coming to the US in March 2010

A massive monograph that provides a comprehensive survey of the American illustrator and character designer Peter de Sève.  The book contains samples of finished work and his sketches from his advertising, book covers, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and his other magazine commissions. 

The book also shines a light on his nearly-anonymous work behind the scenes on animated movies: Robots, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille.  He's probably best-known among animation fans for having designed all the characters for all three Ice Age movies.

A Sketchy Past features sketches from his recently published children's book, The Duchess of Whimsy, written by his wife, Randall de Sève (also the author of Toy Boat).

As a peek behind the curtain of an artist's process, it's worth the effort of picking it up!


my3books x 3: three new books from three series

As a card-carrying member of the publishing world (for what that's worth, these days!), I'm a big fan of "series" books. It's kind of a requirement of the business, right? I know why publishers and booksellers love a good series - once you've done the legwork of establishing a series with your readers, the subsequent volumes are halfway out the door. And I'm not even talking about the Mount Olympus of series like Twilight and H. Potter. There are plenty of series out there, and it's the rare publisher that doesn't dabble in them.

What I'm thinking about tonight are three series that (almost certainly) do not contain any wizarding schools or troublesome vampire boyfriends. These are series for serious booklovers. These are for lovers of beautiful books.

Top Row: 33 1/3 Books
The Flaming Lips' Zaireeka
by Mark Richardson
Continuum Books | 9780826429018 | $10.95 | Oct 2009

Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
by Christopher Weingarten
Continuum Books | 9780826429131 | $10.95 | Jan 2010

Weezer's Pinkerton
By Jessica Suarez
Continuum Books | 9780826429124 | $10.95 | Jan 2010

First up is a the best-established series of the three, the 33 1/3 series from Continuum Books. If you're not familiar with the series concept, writers of all stripes - bloggers, journalists, novelists, musicians - take it upon themselves to write a novella-lenth paean to a single, iconic album by a band or individual musician.

The Wikipedia entry for the series does a great job of listing the complete series, in publication order. The official 33 1/3 blog, hosted by a number of Continuum staff, including series editor David Barker, is a terrific source of information relating to the series, events around the books, and upcoming titles. They have also used the blog to announce "open enrollment" periods when David has accepted proposals for future books in the series from the public. (HINT: They're not currently accepting proposals at this time.)

Many of my bookstores who do not have a thriving music section will frequently pass on them, but I have seen bookstores break them out of their natural section, give them some featured space and they begin to sell and sell.


Middle Row: Photofile
Lewis Carroll
by Colin Ford
Thames & Hudson / Norton | 9780500410981 | $15.95 | Sept 2009

Sarah Moon
by Sarah Moon
Thames & Hudson / Norton | 9780500410998 | $15.95 | Sept 2009

Robert Capa
by Jean Lacouture
Thames & Hudson / Norton | 9780500410660 | $15.95 | April 2009

The second row features the terrific Photofile series from Thames & Hudson, which has a publishing philosophy that is similar to the 33 1/3 series: to bring together the iconic photographs from the world's great photographers in an attractive format, at an affordable price. Each volume has about 60 duotone images, a critical introduction and full bilbliography.

Earlier titles in the series have included luminaries such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Helmut Newton, Edward Steichen, as well as titles that focus on the Magnum Photo agency and the Surrealist Photographers.

The Lewis Carroll and Sarah Moon volumes are the two new Photofile titles for Fall 2009. The Robert Capa book was just published earlier this spring.


Bottom Row: New Directions' Pearls series
Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico
By Javier Marías
New Directions / Norton | 9780811218580 | $9.95 | Feb 2010

The Tales of Desire
by Tennessee Williams
New Directions / Norton | 9780811218566 | $9.95 | Feb 2010

In Search of Duende
by Federico García Lorca
New Directions / Norton | 9780811218559 | $9.95 | Feb 2010

Legendary publisher New Directions, founded by James Laughlin in 1936, is one of the bastions of literary publishing - the first American publisher of Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, W.G. Sebald, and Roberto Bolano. Their unrelenting focus on writers from around the world has helped bring a chorus of legendary voices to American bookshelves.

This winter, they are launching their new Pearls series - small paperbacks with lovely cover designs, bringing a close-up focus to some of their best authors' shorter works: 

  • a short story Spanish novelist Javier Marias (author of the epic multivolume novel Your Face Tomorrow)
  • a collection of short stories by playwright Tennessee Williams
  • an essay on aesthetics by Federico Garcia Lorca, combined with an assortment of his poems

Though this is the newest of the three featured series, I think the Pearls series will make for a great display in stores. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next in the series.


More reading:
> In addition to the three featured 33 1/3 books above, Continuum is also publishing two more this fall season: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Facing Future and Funkadelic's Maggot Brain.
> The Pearls series from New Directions is launching this winter with the three titles featured above and a fourth book, Patriotism by Yukio Mishima.