EXCLUSIVE behind-the-scenes video of the making of the cover… Watch it full-size here.
My new book has a cover! I’ve been the lucky recipient of many lovely covers but this is by far my all time favorite. I love the color, the letterpress-y text, and most of all the big fat green parrot right in the middle. I think it’s an excellent representation of the work itself. About the book:
The first in a new series featuring the dark, weird, brilliant, quasi-psychic investigator Claire DeWitt. While the tattooed, pot-smoking Claire has excellent skills of deduction and analysis, she also uses dreams, memory, precognition, and mind-expanding herbs to help her solve mysteries. But most of all she relies on guidance from the mysterious French detective Jacques Silette and his enigmatic book, Detection. Shot through with memories of Claire’s years as a girl detective in 1980s Brooklyn, these are no ordinary mysteries, but rather investigations into the very nature of mysteries themselves. What is a crime? What is a mystery? Why do some of us solve them while others pass them by? And most of all, how do we know the truth, and recognize it when we see it?
The first book (CITY OF THE DEAD) takes place in post-Katrina New Orleans, where Claire DeWitt has a long past. Assistant district attorney Vic Willing went missing during the storm. But the clues tell Claire he didn’t drown–he was murdered. Hired by Willing’s nephew, Claire investigates in the city she used to love, where her mentor, Constance Darling, was murdered years before. And in the wreckage, Claire finds the depths to which people in crisis can sink–and the heights to which they can rise.
The second book, in progress, takes place in and round the San Francisco bay area.
This cover took A LOT of work and good faith from the editors, agents, designer, et al–I was really picky and kept sending it back until I got what I wanted. So let’s please show them some appreciation and love for their hard work!
Found in today’s San Francisco Chronicle… as a fan of midcentury and of unusual small things, I find myself wanting to crawl into these scenes. I find myself wanting to add a mini Sinatra, slouched in one of the chairs, collar open, pining for Ava. Smashed whiskey bottle on the floor. Or a John O’Hara- girl in a party dress, makeup smeared, one shoe heel broken. Or a Hopper-esque office worker, staring out one of the windows, mournfully.
It also reminds me of an Alexander Girard exhibit I once went to at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. An architect and textile designer, Girard did these great fabrics (and wallpapers and furniture and fonts) for airlines (lavender planes!) and restaurants in the 1960s.
On display at the exhibit and not to be forgotten: an authentic conversation pit (see pix). A great midcentury invention. It is my secret dream to have one.
Few will understand how wonderful this is. For some of us, it will be life-changing. The Vegan Cookie Puss, from the brilliant Isa Chandra Moskowitz:
If you didn’t grow up in NYC the prospect might actually a little but frightening I suppose. You can wikipedia it, but in brief, Cookiepuss is a space alien who arrived at Carvel Ice Cream Bakeries with an ice cream cone for a nose and cookies for eyes and lots of frosting and sprinkles for embellishments (like a hat! and hands!) She’s made, of course, of ice cream…
Carvel was a local ice cream chain and their commercials, which ran throughout the seventies and eighties in NYC, featured a variety of interesting characters the Carvel people had invented themselves. Creative brilliance at work. The only possible way to top it: a vegan Fudgie the Whale. Like Isa, though, no one ever got me a Cook Puss or Fudgie the Whale (which if I remember right was heavily promoted around father’s day, although I can’t quite imagine why). Instead I got health food crap. That’s probably why I haven’t been sick in like twenty years, but also scarred me psychologically. Well, life’s full of trade-offs, I guess.
A topic over Thanksgiving dinner was the new PBS documentary, Circus, which I’d not heard of, but which was highly recommended.
It made me remember seeing the Shrine Circus as a kid, and the sense that I wasn’t precisely enjoying myself but that I was transfixed that so much could be going on all at once and if you settled your eyes for a second, you’d miss ten, twelve things, both beautiful and frightening, strange and oddly flat (because aren’t you always, somehow, expecting something to go very wrong, and it rarely, rarely does).
I remember more, though, the pre-kitsch-revival version of the sideshow, at the annual St. Joan of Arc’s Carnival every year. It seems telling I can’t even remember what the promise was inside, but I remember my dad warning me of seeing an alligator woman at a carnival as a kid, and he never forgot it.
When I still too young to go inside (and in fact, I think by the time I was old enough, the sideshow no longer arrived with the Scrambler, the Pirate Ship, the Cyclone and shoot-the-clown booths), I remember standing in front of the stage, which seemed 50 feet high, hearing the barker (in my memory he is not leery, nor tantalizing but filled with true, stern, nearly desperate warning), haunted by what I imagined lie behind the brightly painted shaggy wood-planked dividers that seemed to separate me from the mysteries of life.
If you have nothing else to do you can watch my two-minute movie here.
Funny how these movies are almost the same story told two ways. In Bell, Book & Candle, Jimmy Stewart is a hapless yet bright man who falls in love with a glamorous, frisky, fun-loving “good” witch played by Kim Novak. In Vertigo, Jimmy is a hapless yet bright man who falls in love with a confusing, shape-shifting, “bad” witch, again played by Kim Novak. Very different endings, of course!
A week ago or therebouts, I went to the American Folk Art Museum, one of my favorite places in the city (a whisker of a building nudged ‘longside the monstrous MOMA). Attending with writer and man-about-town Mr. Scott Phillips, I visited an exhibit of focused on the work of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, which you, Sara, would have loved. It was filled with surprises and delights and oddities, including glorious gilded towers made of chicken and turkey bones. He’s one of those artists “they” call “outsider artists.”
The exhibit was wonderful, but my favorites were the photos he took of his wife, Marie–pinup-style tableaux in front of that kind of floral wallpaper that I forever associate with the 1940s and noir, and thus which has a kind of menacing beauty to me. What I love most are here expressions, which I can’t even rightly describe. She seems both shy, hesitant and yet utterly open to all the beauties of the world.
For ten years, he took photographs of her.
During this time, Bruencheinhein was a baker.
(He even used baker’s tools for some of his paintings, along with quills).
I love the idea of he and Marie, after the bakery had closed, assembling their elaborate shoots, draping the pearls and feathers together. Maybe they played music, and danced.
Final note: According to the august Wikipedia, Bruencheinhein owned a Nash Rambler, and once told a friend he only filled the gas tank twice a year.
HM: I don’t dislike shamans, I dislike the idea that we are somehow not equipped to take the drug on our own, that we need to refer to a guy who is, like, primitive from a poor country who will then tell us how to do drugs because our tainted American minds are somehow incapable of conceptualizing the psychedelic experience. And you have to have some guy who doesn’t know anything about us, or our culture, or who we are, tell us how to experience a drug. It makes no sense at all.