Saturday, February 9, 2013

Judging a Book: I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro

Aluminum foil was invented in 1910, but it wasn't until this year that it found its true calling: a spot-on perfect design element on the cover of I Want To Show You More, the debut short story collection by Jamie Quatro coming from Grove/Atlantic in March.

I've just started reading Quatro's stories and they are eyebrow-raisingly good. The first, "Caught Up," is a short-short about a married woman standing on the precipice of commiting carnal adultery (she's already been having phone sex with "the other man" for ten months). This despite the fact that:
I grew up and married a good man who cries at baptisms and makes our children carry spiders outside instead of smashing them, as they’d like to; who never goes to sleep without kissing some part of my body. He says he wants to know, on his deathbed, that his lips have touched every square inch.
In the second story, "Decomposition: A Primer for Promiscuous Housewives," adultery becomes a literal rotting corpse on the marital bed.

Quatro's style has the terse, stabbing power of Raymond Carver in his finest hour, but at the same time there's the fuller lyricism of something by Alice Munro humming below the surface of the words.  If the rest of the book is as good as these two opening stories, then I'm in for a real treat.

The cover design for I Want to Show You More is also a feast for the eyes, using the mono-chrome of grey and silver to its advantage.  The fabulous art is by Rachel Perry Welty; you can see more of her work here.  With everything encased in foil--including all but the head and arms of the blonde-haired, droop-winged angel--it's like the book is ready to be broiled in the oven.  I also think it was a smart design decision to use a cursive "font" for the words, making it seem like the ribbon of Reynolds Wrap is endless (in some of Welty's other work, she does indeed use one sheet of foil).

I haven't held a hardcover copy in my hands yet, but I'm certain this is one cover that's going to shimmer on the New Books table at your bookstore.

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