Guernica by Pablo Picasso (1937).
So I finished The Road finally, relishing its ash-strewn bleakness at my own sluggish pace. It’s worth noting (since I missed the event) that McCarthy’s novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for best fiction earlier this month, and deservedly so, I’m sure. As if that wasn’t enough, we’re also awaiting the bizarre spectacle of the man who shuns interviews granting an audience to Oprah since The Road has been chosen for her latest book club title.
It’s difficult offhand to think of another writer that can command critical and popular acclaim in this way, although it should be said that if Oprah’s book hordes are looking for an easy or a light read with this one they’re in for a shock. The Road is a dark and desolate tale that makes most contemporary horror novels look anaemic by comparison. That black cover design with its retreating, corroded type suits a story where the sun shines fitfully, if at all, and all is burned, ransacked or destroyed. This is also (as Beaumaris Books and others have noted) a work of speculative fiction—if not full-blown post-apocalypse SF—which is something the book world conveniently ignores. Science fiction has been offering up devastated landscapes like these for decades but for many of McCarthy’s readers this will be a new experience. The belated flush of attention won’t do anything to bring people to SF but it may enlarge the audience for McCarthy’s other work which can only be a good thing.
By an odd coincidence my work manifests in two different forms in Finland this month. Above is the Finnish reprint of ‘King Squid’ by Jeff VanderMeer, part of his City of Saints and Madmen fantasy novel which I designed as a self-contained work. SF magazine Tähtivaeltaja has produced this as a supplement to their latest issue and done a great job of maintaining the look of the original printing.
And in the music world there’s a new CD design for Finnish metal band Turisas. This is their second album, The Varangian Way, a concept affair that describes the journey taken by Viking explorers from the Gulf of Finland to Byzantium via the rivers of Russia. Very bombastic stuff, with choir and orchestra backing the band so it’s probably fitting that I again referenced (ie: swiped) the bloated sun from Bob Peak’s Apocalypse Now poster for the cover.