Probably an Author's Worst Nightmare

Sometimes I'm in the middle of a lovely daydream, that one where I've published a book, and though it's not insanely popular (I wouldn't want it to be) it's solid, a fine piece of work that is rediscovered and appreciated generation after generation long after I'm gone. Then I think of lunchboxes, and the whole thing comes crashing down.

See, the reason I wouldn't want to become insanely popular is because of lunchboxes. And film adaptations, and Happy Meal toys, and mud flaps. It always makes me shudder to see what mass consumption has done to other authors' characters, sort of the same, I guess, as sending your blushing, bright-eyed young daughter into the world and having her come back as a chain-smoking hooker. My reaction is to make a cringing "eeEEee" sound and clutch my manuscript closer to my breast. Posthumous publication is underrated.

Case in point:

Up until a couple of months ago I had never read Little Women. It fell through the cracks somehow. While I was visiting in Oxford I began to pass my nights cozied up in a little library with a friendly, musty old copy of Little Women I had discovered in the "American Literature" section. (A section that had, like, twelve books in it. Biased much?)

When I returned back home I merrily skipped - skipped, I tell you - to my local library so I could keep reading where I left off. There was only one copy on the shelf. I picked it up to take a look...and immediately shoved it back again. "This can't be right," I thought. "Where's the REAL version?" But no, this was it. Someone watching from afar might have thought I was fishing out a dead bird from between the books the way I picked up that copy again.

It was the real version. But this is what the cover looked like:

(click to enlarge)


I don't understand anything about this cover. What is its intent? Is it supposed to attract a younger audience? "Hey look! They have acne! I have acne too! I will now sit down and read 500 pages about 19th century American women's etiquette!"

Did they hope to "freshen it up?" If so, why then do I want to run it down the garbage disposal? I nearly didn't check it out BECAUSE of the cover. And listen, marketing people - I want to read this book. I don't have to lay down money to read it. Yet I was so embarrassed to be seen even carrying it to the front counter that I nearly bailed.

Marketing fail.

The worst part about this What can I possibly pick? Is it the fact that none of those quotes are in the book, nor even remotely what any of those characters would ever say? Is it the...liquid...spotty...substance...that seems to be juicing out all over the page? Is it the defamation of the female form? IS IT THAT THING ON JO'S NOSE?!?

Ugh. Luckily for me, once I opened the pages I didn't have to look at it any more.

And this, THIS is why I fear publication. Poor Louisa May must be tearing out her hair from up in the clouds. Oh, no, she is on the back cover:

Right. Well, she looks pretty okay with it. "MAH GOILS!" she's saying, all sweaty and proud.

Aaaaand....that's all I can say about that.


Anonymous said...

Wow! That's an unbearable cover for a classic! Horrifying... I wonder what the same illustrator would do with Jane Austen's novels.

Too bad the library didn't provide a jacket cover for the book... I can't imagine that many people appreciate it as is!

Brett Minor said...

I wonder what in the world possessed them to think that was acceptable.

Kt said...

Bozo - The illustrator could be hired for the "Pride and Prejudice and Zombie" series. That would be deliciously (or disgustingly) appropriate.

Brett - You got me. Shady dealings?