After Don Share's playful typographical covers, and Nick Flynn's chromatically saturated, sinuous ones, we continue today with the covers of poet, novelist, and former spy Jesse Ball, who may or may not be on your radar screen right now. But I suspect he will be. He has this to say about covers:
I have actually made a brown paper cover to cover over paperback covers that I didn't like while I was reading the volume in question.
I will say that what I like best of all is just cloth without a dust jacket. If a book has nice cloth I usually discard the dust jacket.
(Don't you here find yourself conjuring up secret memories of cloth covers? how rare it has become, the textilic touch of a book...)
Here are Jesse's three. They are austere, wind-beaten, starkly beautiful.
1. Rilke's Duino Elegies, translation C. P. Snow
"The Rilke is elegant and in some ways represents both Rilke's grace and the gentleness and fineness of Snow's translation."
2. WCW's Pictures from Brueghel
"The wheat in the WCW cover gives a beautiful impression of chaos and also of learning, of indebtedness to what has been, and resistance to easy grasping. It is a shame that it mentions the prize at the bottom corner, but such things seemingly must be."
3. Simic, Selected Early Poems
The Simic is a hardcover, but not cloth, so it must keep its dust jacket. I like the quietness and relevance of this cover. Typographical covers often have that effect: they are just telling you what's inside, and that is kind and correct, particularly for a selected poems.
I included a shot of the spine and back because they are crucial. Here the image of Simic is in tension with the simple title on the front. The fact that these are his "early" poems gives the book an immediate narrative and a poignancy.
Jesse has glossed these images so well that I'll keep mum. But do let me know what you think. Thanks for these, JB.