Thursday, August 24

Judge this book by its cover

Frederick S. Lane was on The Daily Show last night hawking his book The Decency Wars.

I haven't read the book, and probably won't until it's out in paperback, so I can't comment on its content. But I would like to poll the audience. Based on what the book is ostensibly about, what do you make of this, the cover?

Interesting that breasts are shorthand for indecency. Or, I guess, shorthand for sex, which is indecent.

Interesting, but not surprising.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see why you might draw conclusions about the cover but I wonder if it is simply a reference to Ashcroft's insistance that the breast of the statue behind him be covered during his briefings.

Fri Aug 25, 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Could be.

Hard to tell without reading the book, I guess, but it makes you wonder if it's strictly commentary on ridiculous edicts like Ashcrofts, or just a time-trusted move by the marketing department to put something on the cover that's guaranteed to sell.

Can it be both? And if it's both, does that diminish the message of the book?

I think it's a fascinating question.

Fri Aug 25, 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

I know it makes me a dork to point out my own typo, but please insert an apostraphe up there — Ashcroft's.

Fri Aug 25, 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Frederick Lane said...

Hi all --

I'm the author of "The Decency Wars." I saw this blog posting while -- blush -- googling my book, and thought I'd respond.

I didn't see the cover until it showed up in the catalog and was more than a little surprised myself. I don't think they were trying to do anything particularly philosophical in their choice of image, although the reference to the Justice Dept.'s silly curtain purchase is a good one.

As for the book itself, it's an extensive discussion of how various groups have tried to impose a particular view of morality on the rest of the nation. That's a reasonable goal on a living room-by-living room basis, but not as a matter of national policy.



Sat Aug 26, 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger theogeo said...

Hi Frederick, thanks for stopping by.

I figured you had little if anything to do with the cover concept, so it's always interesting to see what an author thinks of his/her book once it's polished and wrapped and on the shelves. I mean, the experience of seeing your book on the shelf has to be amazing, but I'm curious about your thoughts on the cover and whether it transmits a message in keeping with the book's thesis.

Anyway, I plan to read the book as soon as I can so I can sort of gauge without guessing.

Mon Aug 28, 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Frederick Lane said...

Forgive the delay in responding to your question. As I said, I was initially surprised by the cover, but have grown to like it. It's a bold image, obviously, but also one that is artistically compelling.

Since I didn't design the cover, I can't speak with complete confidence to the designer's intent. However, my take on the cover is that it does serve as a neat summary of some of the central themes in the book. So much of the Decency Wars, of course, is wrapped in the American flag -- the efforts to define what our society should be. The banner across the woman's breasts is evocative of the censorship that has occurred and at the same time, begs the question of why the woman (or any woman) should have a part of her body blocked from view.

I have grown to like the cover of this book because its very boldness forces potential readers to immediately confront the issue of decency and think about how they feel about it. Is this a book they would buy, put on their coffee table, or give to friends?

Have you had a chance to read The Decency Wars? I'd enjoy hearing your comments.

Wed Oct 25, 08:47:00 AM  

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