Wednesday, October 26, 2011

AMONG THE WONDERFUL Inspires Original Artwork

A singular pleasure I've experienced since the publication of my book is one I did not expect: Seeing the art that my book inspires. Apart from the book jacket, I hadn't even thought about this aspect of the book's life out in the world. But on August 19, 2011, I walked into Swankety Swank boutique, which is filled with vintage and steampunk clothing, jewelry, furniture, and art, and the first thing I saw was a small, lovely depiction of a group of animals called The Happy Family. Maybe because I've experienced my fair share of synchronicities, my first thought was, "Wow, what a coincidence that someone made this painting and it is here, in the place where I'm about to give a reading."
It was only after I saw a second painting, of a bearded woman and a giantess (and titled "Among the Wonderful") that I realized San Francisco artist Rebecca Schumacher had chosen to use my book as inspiration for her own work.

I remain so grateful that an artist would feel moved to paint scenes from my book. It is extraordinary enough that the book has readers who invite my characters and the world of Barnum's Museum into the intimate space of their own imaginations. That artists are making visual art out of it really blows my mind.
Soon after the book's publication, my friend, artist Daniel Gallegos, sent me an image of a painting he'd made with sumi ink. He wrote:

"I was riding my bicycle on the Upper West Side of Manhattan when I came across this building. There are two larger buildings next to it. When I made the sumi ink painting I took the two larger ones out to give it the feeling of New York during an earlier time. I've since found others in the area. I've seen a few old mansions that even have gardens between the larger apartment buildings. Some of these buildings are even made of wood! These remind me of  the buildings that you describe during Emile's walk out of the city to the countryside."

A few months later a review of my book was published in the New York Times. And right there beside the column was something I hadn't expected: a fabulous illustration by Kris Mukai.  

Recently Sarah Lawrence Magazine excerpted Among the Wonderful. One of the reasons I pursued this opportunity so fervently with the magazine's editor is because the magazine is so well designed. I knew that if they published my piece they would do something beautiful with it. And they did. The spread includes this absolutely stunning illustration by Daniel Krall.

In mid October I went to the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association fall trade show in Portland. I was invited to participate in an evening event wherein 20 authors, myself included, spent about 15 minutes at each of 7 or 8 tables full of booksellers pitching our respective books. It was a wonderful opportunity, and I wanted to give each bookseller a small token of appreciation (and something to remember Among the Wonderful by). I have always loved hand-letterpressed books and cards, so I decided on a handmade bookmark featuring an excerpt from the book. I quickly found Milkfed Press, in Alameda, and immediately hit it off with Victoria. We collaborated on the design and when I saw the bookmarks I was just thrilled. She did an amazing job.

And how could I forget the first original artwork of all, made by the amazing Clyde Peterson during his work on the book's original website? Clyde read the first 50 pages of the book before it was even finished and created these layouts. When I decided to work with Clyde to redesign the site, I was really sad to see these go. I still hope to re-incorporate them in a future version.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thank you, East Bay Express

Here's a taste of Stefanie Kalem's thoughtful review of Among the Wonderful in the East Bay Express.

"[Carlson's] portrait of mid-19th-century New York is as finely hatched as any, with gritty Five Points teeming with malice and child neglect and society ladies kicking off suffrage meetings with spiritualist sessions. But what draws you in are her two narrators, each fumbling their way toward the rest of humanity, toward what is wonderful about being part of the world. Among warring Native American tribes, a 'human calculator,' and a vast animal menagerie, [Ana] Swift and [Emile] Guillaudeu each sit simmering in their own brand of 'other,' she secretly scribbling a memoir and yearning for the days before she sprung to nearly eight feet in height; he mourning lost chances at love and the way the museum once was, a paean to the natural order of things."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My daughter Djuna came into the world on March 25. I am taking a hiatus from this blog to enjoy the profound (and tiring) journey of  new parenthood.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cover Art Redux

After further discussion and pre-sales meeting feedback, Steerforth Press and John Gall re-visioned the cover art for Among the Wonderful, and came up with this. I love it. Enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

I love it when marine archaeology and literature collide...

Especially when it involves blubber pots. After years of excavation and research, scientists have been able to identify the sunken remains of a nineteenth-century whaling ship located about 600 miles northwest of Hawaii as the Two Brothers, the second vessel to sink under the command of Captain George Pollard Jr., Herman Melville's inspiration for Captain Ahab. After he survived his first shipwreck (caused by a giant sperm whale ramming his ship), Captain Pollard thought that lightning wouldn't strike twice. It did.  After he watched the Two Brothers sink, he never went to sea again. Apparently he became a night watchman.

For more details about this fantastic tale (including cannibalism!) check out this article published by NOAA.

Lost Whaling Shipwreck with link to Melville's Moby Dick Discovered in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Here's one from National Geographic with photos of some recovered whaling artifacts.

Illustration is "And I only am escaped alone to tell thee," by Tom Neely.