Monday News: Death of a playwright, a book-banning librarian, the art of map-making, and how to hack your book cover
Brian Friel, Playwright Called the Irish Chekhov, Dies at 86 – The writer behind such classics as Dancing at Lughnasa, Faith Healer, and The Loves of Cass McGuire died last week at his home in Ireland. Before becoming a playwright, Friel contemplated becoming a priest, taught math, and wrote short stories and radio plays. He began writing for the stage in earnest in the 1960s, and wrote for more than fifty years, winning numerous awards and accolades along the way, including having a Theater and Center for Theater Research at Belfast’s Queen’s University named after him. His plays were known for their poetic and bittersweet wisdom:
The setting let him bring characters past and present onstage to explore themes that reflected his era’s concerns and confusions: cultural identity and social change; loss and disillusionment; the search for belief and the yearning for transcendence; the power of the imagination and the lure of escapism; the importance of language and the significance of history.
For the theater historian Christopher Murray, Mr. Friel’s aim was to “take the spiritual pulse of the Irish people and find the dramatic form that will render the condition of universal interest.”
Certainly, there was nothing insular about his work. Plays such as “The Home Place,” “Aristocrats” and “Translations,” all set in Ballybeg, established him as a dramatist whose pessimism was tempered with an infectious warmth, generosity and sense of fun. – New York Times
I’m a Librarian Who Banned a Book. Here’s Why. – Scott DiMarco, Director of Library and Information Resources at Pennsylvania’s Mansfield University engaged in an experiment at his campus by banning a book in the library. The book’s author, who was both local and popular, went along with the plan, which was intended to demonstrate that no book is safe from such a challenge (the book in question was a thrilled titled One Woman’s Vengeance). And the results were interesting. While many people complained, fewer than ten actually wanted to speak with the librarian about the ban – so lots of noise but not a lot of action, an outcome which (understandably) concerns DiMarco:
In times of mourning or conflict – when emotions are running high and fear is pervasive – people are more amenable to having their civil liberties restricted. Look no further than the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013: in the aftermath, militarized police searched the homes of citizens without warrants, while armored vehicles roamed the streets of greater Boston.
Later, when Rolling Stone magazine published a photo of bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover, several major retail chains refused to sell the issue, claiming it to be insensitive and in poor taste. One could argue a responsible approach would have been to allow the consumer the choice of buying it or not; however, many in New England were not given this option.
These incidents present two different types of restrictions – one dealing with unlawful search and seizure, the other dealing with the role of a free press.
Nonetheless, it’s a real tension in our democracy. Rights get restricted in the name of “safety” or “anti-terrorism.” Whether it’s magazine covers or books, year after year things get censored or banned. – Gizmodo
Martin Vargic’s Gorgeous Map of Literature – I can’t remember if I covered the incredible map of literature created by Vargic, a 17-year-old (!) artist from Slovakia, but his work is absolutely beautiful. A collection of his maps has just been published, but you can see a lot of his work online. And you should.
4 Ways to Hack Your Book Cover Design (With Science) – A psychology student (who interned at Written Word Media) applies four concepts to the art of book cover design: symmetry, simplicity, color, and contrast. She even uses the concepts to analyze a couple of books covers, which is interesting. Anyway, I don’t think there’s anything completely out of bounds, although I don’t know about the actual “science” of her analysis.
Your book cover is arguably your most important brand asset. A book cover informs the reader of genre, tone, content, and (for better or for worse) relative quality. We know that different genres follow vastly different trends in book cover design – but we can also turn to psychology to understand why certain design elements impact a book’s appeal to readers (and therefore sales). – Written Word Media