Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


It's me, I'm Cathy, I've come home
September 22, 2003 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Is this really the most depressing book cover of the year? Because I kinda thought this one was. [via AntiPixel]
posted by kirkaracha (94 comments total)

 
My vote is for the latter.
posted by jon_kill at 10:15 AM on September 22, 2003


No, I think this one beats them both.
posted by squirrel at 10:16 AM on September 22, 2003


C'mon, she's so effin' hot.
posted by xmutex at 10:18 AM on September 22, 2003


I'd have to go with East of Eden. I find it depressing that they put that kind of crap on the cover of one of Steinbeck's books.
posted by Juanito at 10:21 AM on September 22, 2003


I disagree kirkaracha, jon_kill. Nothing is worse for me than when a book is issued for the first time with original cover art and then a later edition comes out and suddenly the cover has been changed to feature characters from a movie or TV show based on the book (just like your first link). The second example is also annoying, but only because it is a classic that has more room on its cover devoted to Oprah than to Steinbeck. At least the book club gets otherwise-non-reading-people to read.
posted by crazy finger at 10:23 AM on September 22, 2003


You're not better than people who watch Oprah.
posted by sudama at 10:28 AM on September 22, 2003


I find this one quite depressing, ironically.
posted by dhoyt at 10:29 AM on September 22, 2003


Now I am really depressed.
posted by donfactor at 10:29 AM on September 22, 2003


Oh, come on sudama, I'm sure I'm better than some of them.
posted by jon_kill at 10:32 AM on September 22, 2003


I'm eager to read prof. Erika Christensen's introduction -- it's got to be, like, an interesting read
posted by matteo at 10:32 AM on September 22, 2003


Oh, get over it, you mopey bookworms. The naive teenagers/housewives of the nation need a reason to read too, vapid as it may be.
posted by Down10 at 10:35 AM on September 22, 2003


How dare pop culture infiltrate intellectual-approved literature! Pretty soon EVERYONE will be reading the classics! Oh no!
posted by ferociouskitty at 10:36 AM on September 22, 2003


Come on guys, don't get so down. That constricting anus thing really does work-just try it. If nothing else, it takes your mind off of whatever is troubling you (especially if you have hemorrhoids).
posted by TedW at 10:37 AM on September 22, 2003


To me, the question is - Is the cover supposed to be art equal to the text of the book? Or simply a type of marketing? The content is the exactly the same, but the packaging is different. Should I be concerned that the cover has anything but the title and author, which is what in 1847 the original cover probably looked like.
posted by FreezBoy at 10:38 AM on September 22, 2003


Should I be concerned that the cover has anything but the title and author, which is what in 1847 the original cover probably looked like.

No, you shouldn't.

Next question.
posted by PenDevil at 10:41 AM on September 22, 2003


1847?
posted by crazy finger at 10:42 AM on September 22, 2003


Isn't the Wuthering Heights cover entirely fraudulent? The MTV programme was a modern-day interpretation (judging by the photo) yet the original is a period piece. It hardly represents what's inside at all.
posted by Blue Stone at 10:44 AM on September 22, 2003


Oops, my bad. I thought you were talking about the Steinbeck.
posted by crazy finger at 10:44 AM on September 22, 2003


I generally avoid movie covers on books, because I've found that even within the usual shoddy quality control constraints of paperback manufacturing, movie covers seem to be even more crap. I don't particularly object to them for other reasons, though. I mean, it's what's in the book that matters. The cover is just advertising copy. Putting Oprah on a book cover is akin to putting Michael Jordan on a box of Wheaties.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:45 AM on September 22, 2003


Pretty soon EVERYONE will be reading the classics!

Why would I read it when I can watch on MTV? Also, math is hard.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:46 AM on September 22, 2003


Darn! There goes Oprah getting people to read again. When will she learn her lesson and let pseudo-intellectuals enjoy their mensa book club meetings in peace?
posted by Hildegarde at 10:47 AM on September 22, 2003


I win
posted by angry modem at 10:47 AM on September 22, 2003


Since my last contribution was a waste of space, I present the following:

THE WUTHERING HEIGHTS ROLE-PLAYING GAME
posted by crazy finger at 10:48 AM on September 22, 2003


*clench* *clench* *clench*
posted by squirrel at 10:48 AM on September 22, 2003


angry modem wins.
posted by soyjoy at 10:53 AM on September 22, 2003


So no one has mentioned yet that at least two thirds of the people on the cover of Wuthering Heights are Scientologists. It is LRH's fault!!
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 10:56 AM on September 22, 2003


Yeah, Down 10, 'cuz us housewives, we wouldn't read nothin' if Oprah didn't tell us to. Oh hell, I just went and realized Oprah never told me to read MetaFilter; reckon I ought to skedaddle and get to thinkin' about nail polish and bon bons again.
posted by headspace at 10:57 AM on September 22, 2003


Wuthering Nights?
posted by liam at 11:09 AM on September 22, 2003


Now, now, headspace. All your fretting is going to give that pretty face worry lines. Why not just pop back in the kitchen and make us a cake, mmkay? Nothin' says lovin' like somethin' from the oven!
posted by squirrel at 11:11 AM on September 22, 2003


Uh, people reading good books in new covers is ok. In the 1930s, people made the same complaints about paperbacks. When Penguin started reprinting good books in paper,

[many publishers] disapproved on the grounds that the (perceived) high status of the book would be undermined by such an innovation; Harold Raymond, for example, then Chairman of Chatto and Windus, wrote... that selling books in what he regarded as the rather vulgar Woolworths, would devalue and reduce the stature of the book in general. -- from The Cultural Impact of the Paperback Revolution

"Ooooo, commercial, therefore bad" is a pretty simplistic way to look at it.
posted by Bootcut at 11:12 AM on September 22, 2003


If constricting your anus was the way to beat depression, we'd be the happiest people on Earth.
posted by rcade at 11:15 AM on September 22, 2003


Simplistic? On an Internet discussion board? Get out of the city!
posted by keswick at 11:19 AM on September 22, 2003


You're not better than people who watch Oprah.

better than, nope.
smarter, better informed, less gullible, probably.
posted by quonsar at 11:22 AM on September 22, 2003


To me, the question is - Is the cover supposed to be art equal to the text of the book? Or simply a type of marketing? The content is the exactly the same, but the packaging is different.

I wouldn't begin to argue that the cover should be "art equal to the text of the book", but shouldn't we prize quality design in bookmaking? The design of the book affects the reading experience; there's pleasure to be derived from a well-designed cover. There's also something to be said for avoiding the embarrassment that a god-awful cover can bring to the experience of reading in public.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:22 AM on September 22, 2003


I'm torn. Artistically speaking, the MTV cover gives me hives. But pragmatically speaking, I can't help thinking that if it gets even a few hundred teenagers reading it's worth it. As someone said above, the content doesn't change. And that's what's important, no?

I actually haven't had a problem with movie tie-in covers as long as they're a reasonably historically accurate representation of what's inside the book. I always quite liked my "Martin Scorsese" copy of The Age of Innocence, even if it does look like Daniel Day-Lewis is smooving Lucille Ball.
posted by orange swan at 11:23 AM on September 22, 2003


It effects the reading experience, even.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:23 AM on September 22, 2003


No it doesn't. Damn. Today is apparently Stupid Day for me.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:25 AM on September 22, 2003


Very true, mr_roboto, but there are loads of other editions of Wuthering Heights out there. No one need read the MTV covered book if they don't wish too. It's niche marketing of a book.
posted by orange swan at 11:26 AM on September 22, 2003


I thought that movie tie-in book reprintings were all lame until I encountered my dad's childhood copy of Fahrenheit 451 with the movie cast on the cover. I wasn't even aware that there was a movie, yet here were these 1960s-retro characters staring back at me.

Imagine, in thirty years some kid will find this old paperback and not know what the hell is going on.
posted by mikeh at 11:26 AM on September 22, 2003


i find the trend of putting chopped-off legs on the covers of crappy chick-lit books both annoying and comical. with a classic, you can always find a non-Fox-ified version somewhere....uhhhh...
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:28 AM on September 22, 2003


Great - now whenever I think of Heathcliff I'm going to picture Malcolm in the Middle's older brother.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:35 AM on September 22, 2003


I saw a very unassuming soccer-mom type woman reading the East of Eden book on the train the other day, and while I was aware that she was probably doing it because the great Oprah told her to, I thought it was pretty cool.

I'm a huge Steinbeck fan and anything that will get his amazing works more widely read is fine by me. Besides, the red part comes off, IIRC. Better E of E than the most recent Danielle Steele novel or something, no?
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:36 AM on September 22, 2003


Its the book that brought the Oprah book club back. Now that's depressing.
posted by Keyser Soze at 11:37 AM on September 22, 2003


I'm with Orange Swan, if the covers can encourage even a handful of kids to read something other than Maxim and Seventeen or nothing, or a couple of soccer moms reading Steinbeck rather than nothing, then I'm all for it. What does irk me though is that MTV continues to refer to their program as an "original" production, even as far as right on the book cover. The last time MTV had anything original on it Steinbeck was still writing.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:38 AM on September 22, 2003


And yeah - what's with the chopped-off-legs thing? Weird.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:38 AM on September 22, 2003


I don't why you all are so irritated.So they made a movie based on a book based on a Kate Bush song. MTV's core audience doesn't remember the 80's very well, you know.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:43 AM on September 22, 2003


I have no idea who those people on the Bronte cover are, but none of them are Heathcliff or Kathy.
posted by jfuller at 11:51 AM on September 22, 2003


The Bronte sisters are spinning in their collective graves...

On the upside, maybe more people will read it, who knows? It's a fabulous book and I didn't even know that MTV had made an adaptive movie. Then again, I'm totally out of MTV's demographic range, so I wouldn't know if it was being hosted by giant blue aliens...
posted by dejah420 at 12:02 PM on September 22, 2003


Well, at least it's the original novel. What bothers me more are the "based on the movie" adaptations of movies that were books originally (book to movie to book), such as the remake of "Planet of the Apes"*.

*of course, were I Pierre Boule I'd want to distance myself from that, too...
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:19 PM on September 22, 2003


I know there is an anti-Cleese contingent here on MeFi, but I particularly liked Semaphore version of Wuthering Heights done on Monty Python's Flying Circus. Now THERE's a book cover that would crack me up.
posted by Eekacat at 12:20 PM on September 22, 2003


Liam: Wuthering Nights?

Alas, not.
posted by zpousman at 12:27 PM on September 22, 2003


I think it's pretty cool that MTV did their version. I haven't seen it, and I won't, but I think it's cool. Art is supposed to be interpreted. Only bad art is stagnant. It's a classic story that people of any age and from any age can relate to. Now, given that it is MTV, it's probably terrible, but I give them props for the effort. There's nothing new under the sun.
posted by archimago at 12:33 PM on September 22, 2003


And it's no worse than Kenneth Brannagh filming Frankenstein and then using "Mary Shelly's Frankenstein" as the title when that movie strayed pretty damn far from the book at points.
posted by archimago at 12:35 PM on September 22, 2003


I don't think anybody is trying to encourage youngsters to read literature with this. It's just a cheap attempt to sell books and make a buck.

And as for oprahs book club. It is fucked up. People must learn for themselves, not be force fed. obc is giving people fish not teaching them how to fish.
posted by carfilhiot at 12:36 PM on September 22, 2003


I checked out the reviews for How to Goodbye Depression (thanks for the link, dhoyt). Apparently people who bought this also bought Walter the Farting Dog, by William Kotzwinkle et al. I didn't even check out the latter but thanks to Amazon's algorithms Walter the Farting Dog now appears on my Amazon front page as 'recommended.'
posted by carter at 12:42 PM on September 22, 2003


I wish you hadn't posted that Scientology link. There are a couple of people I like on that page and now I cannot like them any more because they are insane. Oh well.
posted by xmutex at 12:47 PM on September 22, 2003


Next week: Apple Records announces their re-release of The White Album: the inspiration for the kidnapping and murder of numerous people by a homicidal drug-addled cult.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:48 PM on September 22, 2003


This version of East of Eden is actually a nice-looking book with the Oprah banner removed (more here). Despite your opinion of the banner, it is one of the more attention-getting items at your local bookstore.
posted by dayvin at 12:52 PM on September 22, 2003


How dare pop culture infiltrate intellectual-approved literature! Pretty soon EVERYONE will be reading the classics! Oh no!

yeah, and I'm also sure that this X-rated version of Hamlet (link NSFW, careful, NOT SAFE FOR WORK) did miracles for the universal knowldedge of Shakespeare, right?

interesting bit for those who can't open the page:
Hamlet once again begs Ophelia for sex. She succumbs, and allows him fuck her at last, proving she really is the princess of porno. By this time Hamlet is an experienced lover and Ophelia is impassioned by his sexual skills.
posted by matteo at 12:53 PM on September 22, 2003


I don't like it when books put pictures of the characters on the cover, because then that's all I can imagine the characters looking like! I can't create their image in my mind from scratch.

However, I do agree that if it gets some teenagers to read, then great. Let's do it to all the books!

As much as everyone likes to bag on Oprah, there have been some GREAT books that she's recommended. Stones from the River is an amazing book, East of Eden, of course. Yes, a lot of them are schmaltzy easy reads, but none are the utter, useless, Reader's Digest, trash that most Americans read. AT LEAST THEY ARE READING! I'm really glad she has a book club. It think it's awesome. And I'm most impressed that she does get into the Classics too.
posted by aacheson at 12:54 PM on September 22, 2003


The Oprah endorsement cuts both ways, certainly; perhaps attracting some buyers but surely repelling others; or at least causing them to rummage for different edition lacking this marque.

It's funny the way bookstore employees look at you, and sometimes speak to you, when you buy books -- they seem to carry around a raft of stereotypes. Without going into the various reactions I've observed for different kinds of books I'll just mention that when I bought a book that happened to have an Oprah book club endorsment on the cover, the look of the girl at the counter was puzzlement struggling with disdain, as in "funny, you don't look like a housebound half-wit."
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:07 PM on September 22, 2003


The Corrections was the best ever book Oprah recommended. Too bad Franzen had to be an ass, because that is brilliant writing for anyone to consume.
posted by xmutex at 1:07 PM on September 22, 2003


On that chopped-off legs thing... at least it leads to interesting promotional images like this one.
posted by soyjoy at 1:10 PM on September 22, 2003


Fortunately, the Oprah banner is removable.
posted by teg at 1:10 PM on September 22, 2003


No, this is the most depressing cover of the year. Look at all those potatoes.
posted by runtina at 1:19 PM on September 22, 2003


I didn't want to, but I watched (most of) MTV's "Wuthering Heights." Never read the book, so I don't have a basis for comparison in terms of how much they "interpreted," but the movie? It's well... it wasn't painful, but it's not something I'd watch over and over (or again) either.

Modern interpretations of "classics," if you will, aren't in and of themselves bad. (e.g. I very much like Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" and "Scotland, PA" ... I even liked Almereyda's "Hamlet" a little bit [Bill Murray as Polonius? Love it.]) But, as has already been said, if it gets some young'uns reading? Yay! Baby steps.
posted by sarajflemming at 1:23 PM on September 22, 2003


*clench *clench* *clench* aaaand *CLINCH*
Whew! 100! You know, I DO feel a little, uh...
Hey, where's my cushion?
posted by squirrel at 1:30 PM on September 22, 2003


Look at all those potatoes.

Real Siberians WISH they had all those potatoes! Is there no limit to the depth that the liberal media will sink in their effort to portray the Soviet Union as potato-filled and full of grandmotherly goodness??
posted by UncleFes at 1:45 PM on September 22, 2003


*clench *clench* *clench* aaaand *CLINCH* Whew! 100! You know, I DO feel a little, uh... Hey, where's my cushion?

squirrel wins. I don't know what, but something. A new cushion, perhaps.
posted by jokeefe at 2:01 PM on September 22, 2003


D'oh! I thought the blond kid was Doogie. I should watch more tv.
posted by mimi at 2:36 PM on September 22, 2003


I should watch more tv.

No you shouldn't.
posted by moonbiter at 3:12 PM on September 22, 2003


The Bronte sisters were, however, down with the popular culture of the time, and had a fine appreciation for the dynamics of what we would now call soap opera... and Charlotte longed for fame, though it eventually disappointed her. So all in all, I'm not sure they really would be spinning in their graves at the thought that their books are still being read, albeit aimed at the kind of readership (fashionable young women, is my guess) that they loathed in their day. Emily might be spinning, but I bet you Anne and Charlotte are laughing.
posted by jokeefe at 3:33 PM on September 22, 2003


Look at all those potatoes.

In Russia - the potatoes look at you!


sorry
posted by jaded at 4:19 PM on September 22, 2003


Even though I suspect it is stupid and pointless to do so, I hate to see classic books treated in this way. I am sure that it will get a new generation to read the book and that is good, but I still hate that cover. I had no idea that MTV had made a movie based on this book and shudder at the thought, although I loved the modern interpretation of Romeo and Juliet (I know, I should be cringing at myself).

You're not better than people who watch Oprah.
Maybe not better than all of them, but I feel safe in saying that I am better than the target demographic.
posted by dg at 4:42 PM on September 22, 2003


This one gets my vote.
posted by Wet Spot at 6:07 PM on September 22, 2003


Hey, shes stealing his pocket watch
posted by clavdivs at 6:53 PM on September 22, 2003


If constricting your anus was the way to beat depression, we'd be the happiest people on Earth.

Now that's a tagline.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:29 PM on September 22, 2003


Gottabefunky and serafinapekkala: gotta add my favorite to your collection.
posted by britain at 7:55 PM on September 22, 2003


Well, at least it's the original novel. What bothers me more are the "based on the movie" adaptations of movies that were books originally (book to movie to book), such as the remake of "Planet of the Apes"*.

I've wanted to take this to its conclusion and make a movie based on a book based on a movie based on a book.

A minor cover annoyance for me is "Gun, With Occassional Music" by John Letham, the original Trade paperback was considered sci-fi (which it is) and had a crazy pulpish cover featuring characters from the book. The new "lit" cover has a guy running, as if to appeal to people who won't buy sci-fi books.
posted by drezdn at 10:28 PM on September 22, 2003


You're not better than people who watch Oprah.

You're not better than people who think they're better than people who watch Oprah.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:06 PM on September 22, 2003


More chopped-off legs.
posted by GaelFC at 11:19 PM on September 22, 2003


I say it's great. Whatever gets the MTV mob to read one of the best novels of all time -- certainly the very best novel ever written by a woman-- is welcome. Plus Wuthering Heights, with all the sexual tension and the love-hate drama, actually feels like a story whose plot can be easily adapted to modern times. Another stolid, victorian cover would be pointless.

I also think that Jonathan Franzen misogynistic snobs who go "eew, an Oprah sticker" assume that TV-watchers are forever condemned to a life of mindless trash. Even if most of them are, some will no doubt profit from being exposed to the Oprah Club and perhaps discover a different world. Like crazyfinger said, it gets people to read, and that counts.

Is that the chick from Traffic? Good actress I must say.

BTW, don't judge a book by the cover. Ever.
posted by 111 at 1:31 AM on September 23, 2003


Just supposed this cover started selling better than the original - the book punter would then have to decide whether he could stand to be seen in public with it. He could wrap it in a Asian chicks I suppose.

O i forgot - clench - mmmmmmm
posted by dprs75 at 2:46 AM on September 23, 2003


As much as everyone likes to bag on Oprah, there have been some GREAT books that she's recommended

"You're another corporate fucking shill. You're another whore at the capitalist gang bang. And if you do a commercial, there's a price on your head. Everything you say is suspect, and every word that comes out of your mouth is now like a turd falling into my drink." (Bill Hicks, Relentless)
posted by matteo at 3:55 AM on September 23, 2003


I thought 111 was just a right-wing troll until I saw his defense of Oprah's Book Club above. Now, I know: he's a well-rounded troll.

As for the most depressing book cover? NO CONTEST.

OK, unclench...
posted by wendellseviltwin at 4:51 AM on September 23, 2003


Some of you sound like you already have an earlier edition of Wuthering Heights so what's the problem? Or do you not have a copy and can only find the MTV version? Doubt it. Stop being snobbish - it's very unbecoming.
posted by meech at 5:26 AM on September 23, 2003


Malcolm's brother has to be Edgar, not Heathcliff, right?

I can't believe I even just had that thought. Kill me now.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:27 AM on September 23, 2003


It's pretty much the same as having an adult Harry Potter cover surely. You don't feel such a kid reading a book with this cover on the tube in the morning in the same way a kid in school feels happier reading WH with some cool looking kids on the cover.

Whatever gets people to read a bit more can only be good, although for me there will always be exceptions. Easy shot I know, but the cover still scares me.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:50 AM on September 23, 2003


wendellseviltwin, I never read your name before, but consider this as an example of the kind of counterattack I will selectively perform on losers that try to derail a thread using my name: you're an imbecile. Nobody even knows who you are and where you stand. You offered no opinion about the thread. Go back to your cave.
posted by 111 at 7:24 AM on September 23, 2003


BTW, don't judge a book by the cover. Ever.

It may be a platitude, but at least 111 and I agree on something. This book is better than Wuthering Heights.

Sorry, couldn't find an image of the actual (1981 edition) book - but its cover is exactly the same as this.
posted by soyjoy at 7:33 AM on September 23, 2003


More worst covers.
posted by TedW at 9:14 AM on September 23, 2003


Hey! I just had a look over at Readerville, and guess what their featured "book of the moment" has on the cover...

What a puzzling trend.
posted by taz at 11:35 AM on September 23, 2003


All this talk of snobbery is missing the point. The reason it's depressing is because the cover deliberately mis-sells the contents and shows a horrible lack of faith in its target market. From that cover you'd expect a light, bland, teenage romance. What you'd be getting is a dark, gothic work of genius dealing with death and obsession. Now which is the more entertaining?
posted by Summer at 4:13 AM on September 24, 2003


Recap of MTV's Wuthering Heights [via TWoP]
posted by Melinika at 10:34 AM on September 24, 2003


« Older The Song Is You:...  |  Video of Krugman on Media and ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments