Book Covers

You cannot judge a book by its cover, but I sometimes buy books because of covers. Take Tony Morrison’s book A Mercy for example.  I just had to buy it because of the shoes on the cover.  These are sturdy lace-up shoes which might have been comfortable if they were not so big for the little feet inside.

That shoe designer could have designed indoor shoes for the television series Sex in the City if he had lived in these high-rise times.  No.  He would have made shoes for Sex in the City the movie, which I understand will have a dozen sequels.

I don’t mean indoor as in morning slippers.  Indoor shoes for the simple reason that they can only be worn in television studios, modelling shoots, cocktail parties, Cannes or film premieres.  Oprah, as in Winfrey takes hers to her chair in the studio.  Double stiletto shoes should be like cigarettes and come with the surgeon general’s warning.  “These shoes are injurious to your legs if you miss a step.”

Indoor shoes are likely to cause irreparable damage if the owner took them for a walk and tried to run for the bus.  Let me withdraw that.  People who can afford indoor shoes never take the bus.  They don’t even drive.  They pay people to pick them up or drop them off.  Their mode of transport is a limo as long as the Nile River.

After Tears by Niq Mhlongo is another book I bought for its cover, although it brought back sad memories.  There was a time when all my mother could afford was that tin of fish on the cover.
She would spruce it up by frying some onions and tomatoes, but after a while, even that didn’t help.  It was just plain fish. 

 Supermarkets still have it which means that there are people who find themselves in her shoes.  The academic gown and cap on the cover also reminds me of how she believed that education was the key to leaving that tinned fish behind. 

 Nathan McCall’s book, Makes Me Wanna Holler has a young man on the cover who is not happy at all.  Many things make him holler, including mistakes he made growing up in Portsmouth, Virginia and newsroom politics, when he becomes a journalist.

I had to buy February Flowers written by Fan Wu who grew up in southern China but lives in northern California.  The cover is exquisite.  It reminds me of a stage, dressed up for a Chinese opera, like in the film Farewell My Concubine directed by Chen Kaige. 

The upper part of the cover is dark red, almost burgundy, with a branch of a cotton tree.  There is a strip in the middle with rich gold and green, which might be from a gown worn by Zhang Ziyi in the film House of Flying Daggers.   The lower part has something written in Cantonese, I think.

Mona Berman’s book, E-Mail from a Jewish Mother is hilarious, but I did not buy it for the content.  I bought it because of the cover, especially the illustration of the little computer in the kitchen and the big pot on the stove.   What I found inside the book was a plus.

My apologies to book cover designers.  Yes.  They are credited for their work on the back cover but nobody seems to notice.  I know Nicole Kuhn because she designed the cover of my novel Sweetness.  Merci!


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