Peter Mendelsund: Portrait of a Cover Artist
You may not know his name, but chances are you already own some of Peter Mendelsund's work. The 46-year-old designer of iconic book jackets for top-shelf authors both living (Martin Amis) and dead (James Joyce) is celebrated in this month's Cover (powerHouse, $60; out August 5), a retrospective of his greatest hits. He's also publishing his first book, What We See When We Read (Vintage, $17; out August 5), a philosophical exploration of the literary imagination. Here, he shares the stories behind some of his standouts.
The Flame Alphabet
by Ben Marcus
"I was looking for a metaphor that could represent the whole book, and I thought, 'I'll make a bird out of paper.' So I cut out all these putative feathers and it looked absurd. Then I turned it upside down and it was like, 'Oh, flames! The obvious thing!'"