Entries from May 2012

Giamatti on baseball

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.

A. Bartlett Giamatti

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Fenway ’56

rain check

August 7, 1956. 68 cents + 7 cents tax. Via Eephus League.

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Ken Burns: On Story

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Into the Woods

Cold Spring Park

A blog post I did for Random House over on Tumblr:

Does it help to see where a novel is set? Would you understand Faulkner’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County any better if you actually visited his Mississippi? Is it even possible to understand Dickens if you have no idea what Victorian London looked like?…

The post includes this photo of Cold Spring Park, the setting of the murder in Defending Jacob. More photos of the park are here.

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John Fox on ball games

Book trailer for The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game by my friend John Fox (on sale May 14). The footage shows the Kirkwell Ba’, an ancient “folk football” game played twice a year, on Christmas and New Years Day, in the streets of Kirkwall, a tiny coastal town in Orkney, northern Scotland.

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The original death of publishing

 

The New Yorker

The New Yorker

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New York, 1908

Manhattan Bridge

The Manhattan bridge under construction, seen from Washington Street, June 5, 1908. The bridge wouldn’t open for another 18 months and wouldn’t be completed for another four years. More newly released historical photos of New York here.

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Graham Greene by Yousuf Karsh

Karsh portrait of Graham Greene

Graham Greene, 1964. Portrait by Yousuf Karsh.

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Ex Libris

I’ve just received a new shipment of these bookplates. They are for readers who would like a signed book but can’t make it to a book signing. If you’d like one, just email me with your address and, if you want a personal inscription, what you would like it to say. There is no charge. It’s just a way of saying “thank you” to readers. (Click the image to view full sized.)

A little background on the design. The woodcut illustration is by the artist Rockwell Kent. It was originally commissioned by the Antioch Bookplate Company for a mass-market bookplate in the 1950s. Those Antioch bookplates used to be very common. You could find them at any bookstore. They were tasteful, inexpensive and, for the genteel middle class, a little aspirational. (My mom had them.)

Kent was a prolific bookplate designer. Most of his work was for friends and private clients, though, like the plate on the left. (Source. More examples here and here. There is even a book on Kent’s bookplates.) The series he designed for Antioch made it possible for everyone to have a Rockwell Kent bookplate.

Antioch stopped printing bookplates a few years ago, but Karen Gardner has continued the business under the name Bookplate Ink, where you can still get many of the old Rockwell Kent designs.

Personally, I love Kent’s art. So when it came time to order a bookplate for my readers, I asked Karen if she would modify one of Kent’s designs to make a little more space for a signature and inscription, since the original design left only enough space for the owner’s name. I cribbed the “compliments of” line from a similar bookplate offered by Alain de Botton, and the result is what you see above.

I admit it’s a little loony to spend so much time thinking about bookplates. In the age of ebooks, soon there may be nothing to stick them on. All the more reason to enjoy them now.

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