Crime Stories from The Strand

I’m pleased to welcome our first guest post, by the prolific Hugo Award winning Christopher J Garcia. You can read more of Chris via his numerous fanzines and podcasts and undoubtedly occasional posts here on Book Judgement. I’m sure not all will be so criminal. -Ric Bretschneider

Crime Stories from The StrandIMG_2211
1991 London Folio Society

Review by Christopher J Garcia – AKA @johnnyeponymous 

Why would you wrap a beautiful work of art in a plain bronze wrapper? It’s like the way Brighton Pavilion would cover over the lovely wallpaper and trim of one time period with the drab paint of the next. Sadly, that’s exactly what the folks at Folio Society have done with their release of Crime Stories of The Strand.

You remember the Strand, right? That hugely important English magazine that was the most important periodical from 1900 to the start of World War I. It was so popular that there was an American edition as well. HALF A MILLION copies a month. Imagine that happening today. It was an unstoppable jugglenaut of a magazine! Now, the London Folio Society put together this lovely collection of stories, ranging from Arthur Conan Doyle and G.K. Chesterton, to a certain Agatha Christie.

And the cover, a lovely puzzle-themed, two-color piece with exemplary cross-hatching and woodcut line work. It’s a marvelous work, lovely, giving off an Edward Gorey-like vibe. David Eccles The purple-blue of the hardcover shows through the black-and-gold printing and it’s spectacular.

Then the fools put a dull gold hard book box around it!

Unsleeved

Why would you do that? There’s literally nothing on the case! It’s a dull gold box which gives no impression of what’s inside. The spine shows two chunks of gold background indicating the title and Folio Society. THAT”S IT! They completely obscured the incredibly beautiful image with that lame lamé case. It’s an unfortunate decision, and I’d keep it on the shelf not in the slipcase if it wouldn’t feel like it were no longer Mint In Box!

The choices for binding and hardcover board choices are pretty solid. The binding does have a certain stiffness to it, which leads to a cracking sound, perhaps aided by the fact that the whole thing is compressed every time you put it back into the dull gold slipcase! The outer fabric is the ideal cover tone, in that purple-blue that reminds me of pipe smoke in Grandpa’s den. The endpapers are in a lovely wine and is the perfect counterpoint to the purple-blue.

The typeface, Ehrhardt, is clear and feels somewhat antique, but not overly so. In fact, it feels Modern. Not contemporary, but solidly, and notably, modernist. I love that!

The book was designed by David Eccles, including the text and the binding, which shows in his artworks, which are not only line drawings, but also some beautiful stipple art. I love Stippling!

All in all, it’s a wonderful product, sturdy, with heavy paper and richly inked text. The edge coloring is in that same wine tone, which is only done on the top of the book, though it really doesn’t matter, BECAUSE IT’S COVERED BY THE BREAKING SLIPCASE!

It’s clear this work has been a labor of love, and obviously well-done, as you would expect from the London Folio Society!

Christopher J. Garcia
July 9, 2014

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An Unboxing of “The Fifty Year Sword”

(This post was originally published in my standard blog.)

I’m a big fan of books. Not just the stories, but the book construction as well. From bindings, paper choice, typeset, typography, layout, it’s all interesting to me.

Mark Z. Danielewski is most famous for House of Leaves, an inventive experimental work of layered stories and typographic morphing of most everything we think of as the printed page.

In this video I do a short review of House of Leaves for those who are not familiar with the work (and to allow those familiar with it to berate and chastise me for “getting it wrong” I suspect) and then do an unboxing of his latest work The Fifty Year Sword, which comes in a unique box and exhibits some of the same traits found in House of Leaves.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope those trying to make a purchase decision on this book are aided in their decision making.

 Buy to help support this site…

previewRic Bretschneider
June 24th, 2014 9:30PM

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Judgement…

OK, it sounds a bit harsh, but it’s really all about love.

I love books. Not just the reading of them, although that’s kind of the real point. I love the composition of books.  Their look, smell, feel, and often sound. I stop short of tasting them, at least most of the time.

Typographers, book binders, designers, and even authors spend a lot of time making books not only satisfying to read, but lovely to behold. Something to cherish on the shelf as much as in the mind. To have and to hold.

So that’s what this blog is about. Short love letters to the beauty of books. And maybe a few stings to opportunities not met.

But just a few.

I judge.

And I do hope you’ll enjoy, and if you want to, please contribute! You can judge too.

-Ric Bretschneider
June 24th, 2014 8:15PM