second skin, john hawkes

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second skin















I’ve always admired the austere covers of New Directions books.  Often little more than a single black and white photograph and a bit of black text against a white background, they appeared rudimentary in design but were nearly always engaging. Of the many designers over the years I know of perhaps a half dozen: Alvin Lustig, who was responsible for the early color covers; Andy Warhol; Gertude Huston, the art director at New Directions who was married to founder and publisher James Laughlin; Stefan Salter, Roloff Beny, Rudolph de Harak.

One of my favorites also happens to be one of my favorite books. Second Skin by John Hawkes is a harrowing, hallucinatory read, and as often as I read it I am never confident that I’ve really grasped what transpires. The cover, of a similar quality, was designed by Jean Krulis and Gertude Awe, about whom I’ve unearthed little information beyond the fact that they designed a number of covers for New Directions, including Adventures in the Skin Trade by Dylan Thomas. Krulis, it appears, graduated from Cooper Union in 1957. Aside from that, the internet is silent. Somewhere I am sure there is a marvellous resource that lists all of the New Directions designers and their covers.

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