My novel, Among the Wonderful, will be published in August 2011 by Steerforth Press. The seven-year preamble to that sentence was a wild, encompassing journey, one that is fodder for a future blog post. But right now I am overcome with a particular glee, one that celebrates the embodiment of a specific, strange aspect of the book: the cover. Among the Wonderful is still ethereal. It exists in zeros and ones, on virtual paper, saved somewhere inside a square icon with the file extension .doc. I know there are thousands (millions?) of Kindle users and other e-book connoisseurs who already accept the electronic medium for literature, but....not me. I dearly hope I never lose the passion I nurtured as a kid in the old Shorey's Books, in a subterranean corner of the Pike Place Market. I blew my allowance on books that just felt good in my hands: a biography of Emanuel Swedenborg with a particularly smooth leather cover; a mid-century edition of the Cupid and Psyche myth, complete with lithographs sandwiched between onion-skin paper; an oversized, cardboard-sleeved Pudd'n Head Wilson. My point is that a book's physicality mattered a great deal to me then, and even more now. I suppose during the seven years it took me to write Among the Wonderful, the book's amorphousness was sometimes a point of frustration. I couldn't hang it on the wall and invite my friends to behold it. It wasn't even propped on an easel, a tangible work-in-progress. Sure, people read parts of it, but it was just weird how invisible the whole project was. And of course I daydreamed about what the cover might look like. I came up with some ideas myself, but mostly I thought about how amazing it would be to see what imagery someone else's imagination would conjure upon reading the story. Now, amazingly, I'm on the brink of finding out.
Last week, my publisher wrote me a terribly nonchalant note to let me know that John Gall, artistic director at Vintage, will be designing my cover. (Here's a portfolio of his work.) It is one of those developments where each time I forget and then remember this amazing news, a sensation kindred to Christmas morning when you're seven years old comes over me. I am honored, thrilled, and grateful. Huzzah! Gall's covers are modern, surprising, and clearly the work of an inspired mind. I can't wait to see what he dreams up for the book. Stay tuned for more news on the book's journey into print.