On Judging a Book by Its Cover

As an employee of the Carnegie Library, I can’t even begin to surmise the amount of information that has swirled around me as our collection circulates.  CDs, books and movies passing from the shelves, through my hands, into homes and back again.  Thousands of people’s likes and dislikes giving me ample opportunity to come across items of which I had no previous knowledge.  One such item is the movie “Withnail & I.” I had to pull it from the shelf to fill a patron request.  Upon seeing the cover, I put it on hold for myself.
First clue – This movie has made its way into the Criterion Collection, a DVD series that concerns itself with publishing only the “best” the movie world has to offer.  Obviously, this doesn’t mean that every movie they release is going to be enjoyable, but it’s a good first indicator that someone out there with some clout thinks it really is good.  
Second clue – The immediately recognizable scribbles of  Ralph Steadman.  I will go on record as saying that any movie that Steadman illustrates a cover for is going to be a movie that I like.  His trademark scrawl of “Bruce Robinson’s Withnail and I,” complete with ink spatters and coffee stains.  The illustration of two men; one sprawled hopelessly across a couch, head in hand, mouth agape.  The other worriedly standing in the background, peering out to the viewer with hands clasped.  Their surroundings cluttered with the signs of a haphazard lifestyle, all broken and stacked in Steadman’s own frenetic style.  
This simple image conveys the tone of the movie and gives the viewer just enough clues as to what can be expected from the characters and the film.


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6 responses to “On Judging a Book by Its Cover

  1. Tara

    I wound up checking this movie out for pretty much the exact same reason (that cover!) and thought it was pretty special.

  2. R Quayle

    I agree- in my time as a CLP processing clerk I found myself often overwhelmed by the sheer amount of knowledge and even if it was material that offended or bothered me, I appreciated the exposure. I was routinely the subject of lighthearted laughter amongst my coworkers because I usually had my card maxed out constantly with another pile on my desk to just rifle through. The library is an unparalled, indespensible composite of cultural compendium that must be kept safe and running forever.

  3. Paul

    I love Ralph Steadman and all the illustrations he’s done with/for Hunter Thompson. I’ll give this a go!

  4. Kona

    Thank you for caring about your customers! It’s what the Carnegie Library system is all about, and I hope you continue to be well-funded.

  5. Jason Bard

    I am a big fan of Ralph Steadman and would be interested in viewing this but remember what they always say…..”you can not judge a book by it’s cover.”

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