Crossed destinies: when the Quays met Calvino


The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1986).

The Brothers Quay are known mainly for their incredible animated films but in the 1980s they were also working as book illustrators and stage designers. Today’s secondhand find was one of their paperback designs for Italo Calvino, part of a series they produced for Picador when the books were reprinted after his death. This is the first time I’ve seen this edition of The Castle of Crossed Destinies, it seems to be more common in an earlier version showing some of the Tarot cards that appear inside the book and which inspire its tales.

Information about this aspect of the Quays’ work is virtually non-existent so I’ve yet to discover how many covers they did in this series. Or, indeed, whether their later Abacus cover (below) was a reprint of the early designs or a new one altogether. Picador had a great run of covers in the 1980s, some of which can be better than the books they decorate. But more often than not they hit on a great design and a great book, as with these pairings. A shame, then, that the publisher managed to credit the designs to the “Brothers Quai”.


left: Our Ancestors (1986); right: Cosmicomics (1987).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The book covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Perfume: the art of scent
The Brothers Quay on DVD
William Burroughs book covers
Tressants: the Calvino Hotel

Jordan Belson on DVD


Samadhi (1967).

“Jordan Belson is one of the greatest artists of visual music. Belson creates lush vibrant experiences of exquisite color and dynamic abstract phenomena evoking sacred celestial experiences.” William Moritz

Good things come to those who wait. Following their collection of Oskar Fischinger films, the Center for Visual Music releases Jordan Belson: 5 Essential Films in March. Fischinger worked on Fantasia and Belson also exerted some small influence on Hollywood with the special sequences he created for Donald Cammell’s Demon Seed (imaginings of the film’s Proteus computer) and Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff (the vortex seen by Sam Shephard at the edge of the stratosphere). You can read more about Belson’s work in Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood, an essential guide to film outside the narrative mainstream.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Ten films by Oskar Fischinger
Lapis by James Whitney
Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood
The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda

A wake for Arthur


That which you will miss: Arthur #1–25.

“And till Arthur comes againus and sen peatrick’s he’s reformed we’ll pose him together a piece, a pace.” Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.

Awake, A Wake!

Come celebrate the happy, all-too-brief life of Arthur Magazine with free giveaways and a reading featuring Molly Frances, Oliver Hall, and Peter Relic.

Thursday, March 1, 7:30pm

arthur_flier_small.jpgFamily Bookstore, 436 N. Fairfax Avenue (across the street from Canter’s Deli), Los Angeles, 90036.

Arthur‘s “New Herbalist” columnist Molly Frances incited a revolution nationwide by informing readers of the true powers of almonds, sprigs of mint, and Lord Byron’s secret potion (a.k.a. apple cider vinegar). Molly’s eerily prescient horoscopes have been known to strike the melodic funny-bone of even the most determined non-believer. Tonight Molly will be giving astrological readings as well tripling any double entendre at hand.

Oliver Hall penned Arthur‘s cover story on Kim Gordon and memorably profiled folk radicals Faun Fables. He is the statuesque guitarist with L.A.’s newest psych-rock sensation E.S.P.S., and is seldom seen without his trusty Patsy Cline t-shirt. Tonight Hall will be dispensing priceless aphorisms as well as deconstructing the pungent, multi-faceted phrase “no money, no honey.”

Peter Relic eulogized Jam Master Jay and went on the road with the Black Keys and Sleater-Kinney for Arthur. Relic’s profile of the Geto Boys, reprinted in Da Capo’s Best American Music Writing 2006, was deemed by Seattle’s The Stranger to be “easily one of the most surreal, violent, and ludicrous artists encounters ever documented.” Tonight Relic will be reading from his storehouse of pantoums, an unjustly obscure Malaysian poetic form.

We look forward to seeing you there—dressing in black not a requirement!

Update: Village Voice post-mortem.