I enjoyed this critique of the Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac jacket, which is still probably my favorite of all my books’ jackets.


Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Source: http://us.macmillan.com/memoirsofateenageamnesiac

Critique: The cover of the book Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, by Gabrielle Zevin, published by Square Fish, an imprint of Macmillan, was photographed by Mike Bentely/iStockphoto, and designed by Jeffrey Jenkins. The story itself is about an amnesiac— a person who has suffered from a partial or total loss of their memory. Jenkins helps portray this crucial plot point with the simple cover. A cover of a book is the first thing a reader will see before they know what the book is about, and Jenkins’ design not only conveys what the novel is about, but also gives the viewer a lasting sense of mystery that accompanies amnesia and the cause of the character’s amnesia. The type used for the title is very simple— it does not detract from the cover image, but it also stands out because of the light colour of the dark background. However, the contrast is not so intense as to tire the eyes when looking at it. As well, the last word of the title— ‘amnesiac’ — fades away into the background of the photo, mimicking how a memory is wiped away from an amnesiac’s mind. The cover image used is also incredibly interesting. The keys stand out against not only the dark background, but also the text. They seem three dimensional against the flat background. While most of the keys feature letters of the alphabet, the question mark stands out against them in the middle of the composition. The question mark is not placed generally where it would appear on a keyboard, so it draws attention. The use of the question mark in such an unconventional spot brings the mystery of memory loss to the viewer’s mind and allows them to encompass a general question of ‘what happened?’ This makes the viewers want to pick up the novel, and figure the mystery out for themselves. Overall, the elements that Jenkins’ used for the cover design of Memoirs of a Teenage Anesiac embody the theme of the book, compliment the title, and successfully make the viewer want to pick up the novel based on cover alone.  

and slowly, very slowly, you also forgot the tastes of things that really hurt. Even things I thought I would never ever forget slowly faded into lost memories. Guys from the past, guys that were awkward, girls who were cute, girls who were smart, who went to that university, whose parties were great, you end up forgetting all of that stuff. People you said you loved.. People you truely loved.. Even the people who you think you’ll remember till the very end. Mm, but that’s why the waves of memories get thinner. It’s because it’s possible to forget those things that it makes it possible for us to love someone else in the future.

My book becomes a screenplay becomes a Japanese screenplay becomes a Japanese movie becomes subtitled back into English. For comparison’s sake, here is the original text from the book:

“It happens, baby.” Dad nodded and patted me on the hand, and then he read my mind. “You forget all of it anyway. First, you forget everything you learned – the dates of the Hay-Herran Treaty and the Pythagorean Theorem. You especially forget everything you didn’t really learn, but just memorized the night before. You forget the names of all but one or two of your teachers, and eventually you’ll forget those, too. You forget your junior class schedule and where you used to sit and your best friend’s home phone number and the lyrics to that song you must have played a million times. For me, it was something by Simon & Garfunkel. Who knows what it will be for you? And eventually, but slowly, oh so slowly, you forget your humiliations – even the ones that seemed indelible just fade away. You forget who was cool and who was not, who was pretty, smart, and athletic, and not. Who went to a good college. Who threw the best parties. Who could get you pot. You forget all of them. Even the ones you said you loved, and even theones you actually did. They’re the last to go. And then once you’ve forgotten enough, you love someone else.” 

The Art of the Backhand and/or My Meager Gifts


books that make me cry

no matter how many times i read them


memoirs of a teenage amnesiac

Neither of them are very good, but they’re by the same author so I guess she has a talent for that sort of thing.

This is what we in the business call a backhanded compliment. At this point in my life, I am in the habit of accepting compliments of all varieties.

On a semi-related note, I am considering wearing tennis whites for my entire book tour this fall.

Do you have a playlist for Memoirs?

Yes, but doesn’t it seem so tired to do that? What book doesn’t have a playlist? Oh, all right, if you insist…

Here’s one I made in 2007 for an interview. The idea behind this mix is that it’s one Naomi created on a college road trip when she was in the mood to reflect about that wacky year in high school where she dated three boys and had amnesia.

Part the First: Songs for Will
“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) – Arcade Fire
“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” – The Flaming Lips
“A Certain Romance” – Arctic Monkeys

Part the Second: Songs for James
“First Day of My Life” – Bright Eyes
“Vindicated” – Dashboard Confessional
“Angeles” – Elliot Smith
“World Spins Madly On” – The Weepies

Part the Third: Songs for Ace
“Wigwam” – Bob Dylan
“Ripchord” – Rilo Kiley
“Better Man” – Pearl Jam

Part the Fourth: Songs for Myself
“Foux du Fa Fa” – Flight of the Conchords (in honor of Naomi’s French class)
“Life on Mars?” – David Bowie (“Changes” can be substituted here.)
“1979” – Smashing Pumpkins
“The Heart of the Matter” – India.Arie
“That’s the Story of My Life” – The Velvet Underground
“Your Ex-Lover is Dead” – Stars

And here’s a semi-complete list of songs referenced in the book:

Will’s 1st Mix
“Fight Test” The Flaming Lips
“To Whom It May Concern” by John Wesley Harding
“Song I Wrote Myself in the Future” by John Wesley Harding

In Naomi’s Biology Class
“Vertigo” by the Philip Glass Ensemble (Or something like)

At the Planetarium
“Learning to Fly” by Pink Floyd

Will’s Movie for Naomi
“Story of My Life” by the Velvet Underground

Songs for Visiting Naomi’s Crazy Boyfriend in Albany
“Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley
“Fly” by Nick Drake
“Angeles” by Elliot Smith

Opera on the Beach in Los Angeles
Maybe something from Tosca?

The Yearbook Song
“I Will” by The Beatles and the entire White Album

Will’s Mix for Naomi’s Art Show
“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part I” The Flaming Lips

(Alternative) Songs for a High School Graduation
“Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder or the Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve
“My Back Pages” by Bob Dylan
“Friends Forever” by Vitamin C
“Ghost World” by Aimee Mann
“At Last” by Etta James
“Teenage Spaceship” by Smog
“Baba O’Riley” by the Who
“Race for the Prize” by the Flaming Lips
“Praise You” by Fatboy Slim
“Road to Joy” by Bright Eyes
“I’m So Tired” by The Beatles
“Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and “The Only Living Boy in New York City” by Simon and Garfunkle

The song that has the erratic tempo for marching
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

The song by Bob Marley
“Three Little Birds” or “Redemption Song”

The song that may have been used in a Special Olympics commercial
“The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston or “One Moment in Time” also by Whitney Houston