Friday, February 24, 2012

Cool Covers 5?

While I'm scanning new book covers to discuss, I thought I'd throw this puzzling entry into the ring. Not a book cover, but in the same strange spirit?

Back when I was living in Kingston for the second time (1999-2001) my neighbour Steve Heighton introduced me to retsina. We both knew that this was not a high-calibre Greek wine, but man is it refreshing when chilled. I don't know if its the resin or the grape, but nothing I've encountered tastes as cold as this beverage.

I've taken to drinking a glass of Malamatina while doing my evening reading of poetry and have been pondering this strange label:

I believe the Greek in the top corner translates as "Malamatina forever!" and I understand why there are grapes at the top, but what are we to make of the central figure?

Is it supposed to be a child? A dwarf? Is it wearing diapers? To me it looks like Tintin or Astro Boy on a bender, or a teletubbie hitting the bottle. And why is it drinking wine out of a mug?

And then there's the key. What's it supposed to be opening? One's gullet? Is it loosening one's inhibitions? Or is it a key to happiness? If it's some wind-up element it's on the wrong side of the figure.

I find this as inscrutable as a free mason emblem and I haven't been able to find anything online about the origins of this design. Perhaps someone better-versed in semiotics can give me a hand....

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review and Reminder

Nice review of I Can Say Interpellation in the new Broken Pencil by Nico Mara-McKay:

And a reminder for those of you in the Toronto area that I'll be reading from the said text, as well as new and old material, Sunday evening at the Holy Oak (see last posting).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Avantgarden Reading

I'll be reading from I Can Say Interpellation and new material at the Avantgarden series with Mat Laporte and Jimmy McInnes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012 - 5:30pm

Holy Oak Cafe
1241 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON
M6H 1N6

More info here.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Cool Covers 4

A find at a yard sale for $1, perhaps the cheesiest bookcover I own (although Cool Covers 6 might test that premise):

Published by Avon Books ("The Sign of Good Reading") in 1965, this misleading edition makes me wonder what Avon would have produced had they acquired the rights for Beautiful Losers, a book which actually does have pornographic passages.

Beyond the photo, and the American re-spelling of the original title, I'm surprised that the cover copy defines the favourite game as sex.

Of course it is one of the great aspects of the novel that the favourite game remains somewhat ambiguous, but can it really be reduced to sex? This is my reading copy of the novel:

Glad to see that McClelland and Stewart's NCL edition has the proper spelling (but which way will the new German-owned M&S go?). This time the cover image implies that the music industry is the favourite game, although this edition's backcover copy suggests otherwise:

There is humour here, and tenderness, heightened by a shrewd appraisal of the human comedy--where "the favourite game" is love.

I like this interpretation, but what does Cohen himself suggest by the novel's end? In my favourite passage, which concludes the book, Cohen writes:

Jesus! I just remembered what Lisa's favourite game was. After a heavy snow we would go into a back yard with a few of our friends. The expanse of snow would be white and unbroken. Bertha was the spinner. You held her hands while she turned on her heels, you circled her until your feet left the ground. Then she let go and you flew over the snow. You remained still in whatever position you landed. When everyone had been flung in this fashion into the fresh snow, the beautiful part of the game began. You stood up carefully, taking great pains not to disturb the impression you had made. Now the comparisons. Of course you would have done your best to land in some crazy position, arms and legs sticking out. Then we walked away, leaving a lovely white field of blossom-like shapes with footprint stems.

For a history of a similarly misrepresented Canadian "classic", see the Dusty Bookcase on Thomas Raddall's The Nymph and the Lamp here.