Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

'Talking Covers With Jonathan Lethem' At The Last Bookstore

Nicole Emerich |
March 3, 2013 | 11:59 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Lethem in conversation with Sean Manning (Nicole Emerich/Neon Tommy).
Lethem in conversation with Sean Manning (Nicole Emerich/Neon Tommy).
The age-old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case award-winning author Jonathan Lethem gladly condones this cover-judging behavior.

Over the weekend the Last Bookstore, located in downtown Los Angeles, offered a close and casual sit-down with author Jonathan Lethem to explore topics ranging from the Beat Generation to his strange obsession with precious puppies. The event had quite the turn out with a diverse group of booklovers who congregated at the temple of all books: The Last Bookstore. For those of you who have yet to explore the maze of literary works located downtown, I highly recommend running to the Dash F immediately and wander through the hundreds of book stacks. It is by far Los Angeles’ most wonderful hidden gem. 

Sean Manning, creator of the blog Talking Covers, sat opposite Lethem to help delve into the meticulous inner workings behind each book cover. Lethem has written popular titles such as, "Motherless Brooklyn" and "The Fortress of Solitude," which became a New York Times bestseller.Manning and Lethem intensely explored the difficulties behind personifying individual novels. Apparently, it always comes down to “having a jacket exactly right for the book, but not great or deciding upon a wonderful jacket, but doesn’t exactly fit the book.” It was quite interesting to hear so much about something we might pay little to no attention to as we browse in a bookstore. 

Several book cover designers also made video appearances to offer personal background to each jacket. Designers such as, Amy King, executive director of art and design at Rodale Books stopped by for a little viral chat, King was the designer of Lethem’s novel Motherless Brooklyn, She passionately described designing books as a “form of grace coming towards her,” which must work wonders because she is the recipient of the prestigious 50 Books, 50 Covers Award.

For so many of us that read books the good old-fashioned way instead of on the new finger-flicking tablets, book jackets serve as a basis for rejection or acceptance. It’s one simple look or quick glance and that is it. The cover either catches our eye or it sadly stays on the shelf. After this little chat, it was difficult not to be impressed by the immaculate thought put behind each and every book jacket. Especially since the book business has been deemed a dying business. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is alive and well and it certainly resides within the Last Bookstore. 

Reach Staff Reporter Nicole here




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