David Gee is an accomplished designer who specializes in book design and has dreamed up many iconic covers. Fun fact: he also designed the logo for Groundwood Books! For our second instalment of Sterling Road Reads, we asked David about his recommendations and he chose an Anansi classic, Basic Black with Pearls by Helen Weinzweig.
This is a haunting book that demands multiple readings
I picked up this book a couple of years ago as I was struck by the cover. (These things matter to a book designer like myself.) Reviews promptly heralded it as a lost feminist classic. As this is an admittedly weak spot in my reading history, I was able to dive into the book cold. Basic Black With Pearls is a brisk, tightly written dream-novel with an unreliable narrator… all the things I happen to look for in fiction. It paints a vivid portrait of a woman finally searching for self-directed meaning, searching for someone who might not exist, searching for love — all of it in a Toronto that seems slightly familiar, yet somehow completely foreign or imagined. (“Wait, if she turned left on College after going north, how did she end up in the east end?”) It’s a Toronto of parking lots, empty streets, department store diners, and seemingly endless distances between locations with any real, well, meaning. It reminds me of the Toronto I used to visit as a kid, the grim Toronto I feel like I remember, but one that ultimately may have never existed. Some of the details of the book are hazy, unreliable... dream-like. This is a haunting book that demands multiple readings, and as I gave out the copies I bought, Anansi graciously supplied me with a fresh copy of the book so I can finally read it again, and again.
Check out David's book covers: http://davidgeebookdesign.tumblr.com/
Basic Black with Pearls by Helen Weinzweig