Monthly Archives: April 2012

Postcard #6: A BOOK OF SCRIPTS

Postcard #6 reviews one of those subjects that we all feel an affinity with (I’d wager at least half of you have a favourite typeface – mine’s Baskerville, dahlings) without really having the faintest idea about it all. It’s a fact that probably becomes clear pretty quickly when you’re coerced into reading a bloody great tome dedicated to its history, structure and form. That’s not to say it’s not fascinating though, and our reviewer does a great job of showing us how complex and visual this art is – so much more complex than I suspect many of us give it credit for.

As an aside, I always find it difficult to consider the particulars of typography without thinking of the Guardian’s quite spectacular April Fool’s hoax of 1977, in which they created an entirely fictional island nation, Sans Seriffe (an archipelago comprising two islands, Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse), complete with a government (General Pica), harbour (Port Baskerville) and national bird (the kwote). Holiday companies were, for weeks thereafter, inundated with requests for Sans Seriffe travel brochures. Tremendous.

So, without further ado: A Book of Scripts.

Does exactly what it says on the tin

Two interesting facts about the designer of this cover. 1. He was denounced by the Nazi party as a 'cultural Bolshevist' in 1933. 2. He invented the typeface family Sabon. FACT.

Reverting to type

A brief history of calligraphy from the Romans to the Sixties that encapsulates just how much typography and design have changed! I’m not a graphic designer, but I enjoyed the insight into the process of crafting new styles. Half the book consists of facsimiles, which are interesting to flick through but fall a bit flat when grouped together without analysis. It’s a neat little read for graphics geeks though! Lisa Thom, 08/04/2012 lisathom.co.uk


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POSTCARD #5: KEEPING POULTRY AND RABBITS ON SCRAPS

It’s Friday 13th, and nothing says spooky like hens and fluffy little bunny rabbits…

Here is postcard #5 for your viewing pleasure! I love the way our reviewer has placed the book in its context of wartime, and the ‘make do and mend’ mentality that went with it hand-in-hand. In the years spanning then and now, consumerism and globalisation have made everything our hearts desire instantly available for us at the click of a button – brand-new, same-day delivery, buy-one-get-one-free… Can’t help but feel we’re missing a trick somewhere along the way.

Although, come to think of it, the idea of brand-new, same-day delivery, buy-one-get-one-free fluffy little bunny rabbits isn’t such a bad one.

Bunnies, chicks, dancing penguins… animal OVERLOAD

 

I’ve never kept hens or rabbits so I’ve no idea if the advice within is any good. However, I have learnt that hens are ‘humble and slightly ridiculous creatures’ and how to build my own battery cages (?!) It seems fairly comprehensive and there’s much more than just advice on feeding, with tips + information on everything from buying to diseases to killing your animals humanely. I would definitely want to check modern sources too, but I quite like that it’s not been updated since 1941. The book captures, in a useful way, the wartime spirit of doing the very most with the very least, in a (sometimes unintentionally funny) matter-of-fact way.
Debbie Kinsey 08/04/2012

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POSTCARD #4: MY MAN JEEVES

Another day, another postcard – and this time it’s the turn of the wonderful P.G. Wodehouse, and My Man Jeeves.

Wodehouse (known to his friends and family, pleasingly, simply as Plum) is admired and loved today as much as ever he was. While his most famous creations of Jeeves and Wooster were just about as English as one could possibly be, Wodehouse himself became a naturalised (or should that be naturalized…) US citizen way back in 1955 – 20 years before his death. It was only earlier this year that it was revealed that Wodehouse was persistently refused immunity from UK prosecution should he ever return to this sceptred isle, for alleged war crimes after describing the German army as ‘a fine body of men’… Golly. You’d think they had more important things to worry about, really.

And now, not two months after this little revelation, one lonely postcard confirms – as we always knew – that Britain’s loss was truly America’s gain. The man whom Britain shunned remains, as ever, an undisputed national treasure.

Right ho, Jeeves – onwards!

I say – what a spiffing cover we have here

‘I say Jeeves! This book is absolutely ripping! One of our very best efforts.’
‘Sir?’
‘Oh, don’t be so modest, Jeeves. And while you’re there, bring me a whisky and soda?’
‘Certainly, sir. And might I just add, sir, how pleased I am that you have enjoyed our latest – how shall I say – adventure? Sir.’
‘Top stuff, Jeeves. Particularly like the one where you got me out of that ghastly engagement,’ I said, lighting a cigarette.
‘Will that be all, sir?’ said Jeeves. ‘Very good, sir. Thank you, sir.’
– Jenna Eyers, 6 April 2012

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POSTCARD #3: HOTEL SPLENDIDE

April has arrived and with it another postcard review! This time it’s for Hotel Splendide, written by Austrian author Ludwig Bemelmans in 1942. (Little known fact: Bemelmans was also, apparently, an internationally known gourmet.)

Now, I wouldn’t exactly call this review gushing… but there’s something rather sweet it reveals about the book somehow; a meandering sense of purposelessness. Not that sweet, though: I’m going out on a limb here to say this has not made it to the top of my reading list. But then my reading list is a very long one, and ever-growing, so we shouldn’t hold that against it too much. A bit, but not too much.

Anyone else intrigued by the ending?

The end is the best bit: possibly not a good sign

Say what you like about the book, but who can spy these beautiful old Penguin cover designs and not feel a little bit happier inside?

I like a reviewer who can finish their sentences

1942: Hemingway had just published For Whom the Bell Tolls, Camus had just published L’Etranger, and Ludwig Bemelmans published this slice of fluff. A series of loosely connected vignettes and character sketches set upstairs and downstairs at the Hotel Splendide, it reads as what it was – a collection of pieces written for The New Yorker. My interest waned long before the end, which was only 140 pages from the beginning. Yet I can’t think of anything critical to say about it, beyond the fact that I can’t think of anyone I’d recommend it to. Plus it suddenly gets good in the last chapter, only to leave the story unfin— Jonathan Eyers, jonathaneyers.com/blog 02/04/2012

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