James Morrison (aka Caustic Cover Critic) has begun designing and publishing an eclectic mix of books whose copyrights have expired. The one that stood out to me was Eugene Batchelder’s A Romance of the Sea-Serpent, “an 1850 book-length Monty Python-style doggerel poem about a socially aspirant sea serpent.” Morrison quotes David S. Reynolds’ description of the book from an essay about Moby-Dick: “The largest monster in antebellum literature was the kraken depicted in [Batchelder's book], a bizarre narrative poem about a sea serpent that terrorizes the coast of Massachusetts, destroys a huge ship in mid-ocean, repasts on human remains gruesomely with sharks and whales, attends a Harvard commencement (where he has been asked to speak), [and] shocks partygoers by appearing at a Newport ball.” Sign me up. . . . I read Richard Ben Cramer’s massive and entertaining What It Takes, about the 1988 presidential election, a couple of years ago. Ben Smith at Politico writes about the doorstop’s initial chilly reception and eventual fan base, “a case study in how a book enters the canon.” (Via) . . . John Gall shares some work by his talented design students. . . . For the new year, Scott Pack has started a new blog, where he will write about one short story per day. . . . David L. Ulin champions one of my favorite books when I was a kid, The Cricket in Times Square. . . . Tin House has redesigned its home page, its blog, and its everything else.
Thursday January 6th, 2011