Cover art by Alan Aldridge for The Secret Life of Plants, 1975. Via.
• At Aquarium Drunkard: Alice Coltrane and band in a furious live performance at the Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972. The audio is on YouTube, and was also released on (unofficial) vinyl a couple of years ago, but you can download the whole set at Dimeadozen. (Free membership required.)
• “Black Square is tragic; it’s absurd; it can be bewildering or funny; it’s certainly metaphysical; and now it serves as a precursor for works and projects yet to be imagined.” Andrew Spira on the precursors of Black Square by Kazimir Malevich.
• “The possibility of plant consciousness cuts two ways, depending on whether you see plants as friend or foe, benevolent or threatening.” Elvia Wilk on the secret lives of plants.
• New/old music: Robot Riot by Stereolab. A previously unreleased recording from the mid-90s which will appear on the fifth instalment in the Switched-On compilation series.
• “Dare’s good, but Love And Dancing broke the mould and kicked off the whole modern dance scene.” Ian Wade on 40 years of remix albums.
• Coming soon from Strange Attractor: Arik Roper: Vision of The Hawk.
• At Unquiet Things: Deborah Turbeville’s unseen Versailles.
• “Thinking like a scientist will make you happier”.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: Karel Zeman Day.
• Plantasia (1976) by Mort Garson | Musik Of The Trees (1978) by Steve Hillage | The Secret Life Of Plants (1979) by Stevie Wonder
This time last year I happened to be re-reading my way through the collected short stories of HG Wells; this year I’ve been reading The Island of Doctor Moreau, not to continue the seasonal trend, I simply felt the urge. More about Moreau tomorrow.
These covers are from a series of Penguin reprints which first appeared in 1967 and went through several editions. Harry Willock was the cover artist, and may also have been the designer of the Wells and Verne titles, other text-only Penguin covers from around this time being credited to Willock. The Penguin Science Fiction site describes the obtrusive “A Penguin Book” legend as the “panic top”, a heavy-handed attempt by Penguin’s management to reinforce their brand. Later reprints dropped this but it’s stamped across most of these editions.
This edition of The War of the Worlds was my first encounter with the novel so the cover has always been very familiar, a factor which probably prevented me from seeing how effectively all the Willock Wells covers work as a set. The Martian war machines aren’t very menacing—especially when they seem to have done little but arouse a pair of butterflies—but I do like the type layouts and the way the illustrations are concentrated into a circle. Willock’s drawings so closely imitate the style of Victorian engravings it’s easy to take them at first glance for the genuine article.
Continue reading “Harry Willock book covers”
Detail from La Havane by René Portocarrero; photo by C. Marker.
This week’s book finds are a pair of titles I hadn’t come across before in these particular editions, another haul from the vast continent that is the Penguin Books back catalogue. Labyrinths I’ve had for years in a later edition (see below) but the cover of this one seems more suited to Borges (as much as he can be illustrated) than the somewhat bland Surrealism of illustrator Peter Goodfellow. René Portocarrero (1912–1985) was a Cuban painter with a post-Picasso style who specialised in hallucinogenic profiles like the one here. And it’s a guess but I’d bet the “C. Marker” who photographed the painting is French filmmaker Chris Marker (who I compared to Borges last year), director of La Jetée and Sans Soleil. Marker worked as a photo-journalist for many years and made a documentary entitled ¡Cuba Sí! in 1961.
Continue reading “Penguin Labyrinths and the Thief’s Journal”