March 4, 2009

Judge This Cover: Dogeaters

Dudes. This is how you design a book cover (warning: craziness and nekkidness present):

Seriously, what on earth?

I could stare at this thing for hours. I'm not sure how well you can see all the details -- I, of course, have the advantage of the actual book in front of me -- so let me list some of the things I see:

  • We've got the pseudo-cruxifiction pose, except it's a woman, except her head has been cut off and a statue's head (David?) has been sewn on in its place.

  • She's holding a giant sword and a severed head, which I don't think is her own (based on skin tone) -- so where is her head?

  • There's a gaping torso wound on her that either contains a fetus, which is in the wrong place, or her glowing angelic stomach that also seems to have arms.

  • Seriously, whose head is that? There's some biblical imagery that also could apply here: we might have an image of Judith, or of Herodias.

  • Her hands/forearms appear to have been detached and then sewn back on to her body.

  • Her feet: they are webbed. Is she amphibious?

  • There are angels in the clouds above her head, and they are either crowning her with a bishop's mitre, or taking it off of her. Either way, the one on the right seems okay with this, but the one on the left seems pretty upset. Or perhaps they are playing a genteel sort of tug-of-war?

  • She's superimposed (floating, I think) over some sort of fantastic landscape with waterfalls and the sun rising/setting behind her back, and all sorts of severed stumps -- perhaps alluding to her severed head and arms?

  • ORANGE!!

  • Clever little thing: the title of the novel appears to have been forcibly ripped out of the canvas that the image is painted on.

So, my friends, what exactly is going on here? In truth, I have no idea. The novel is by Jessica Hagedorn, the cover was designed by Gail Belenson and executed by Papo De Asis: this I know. But I'm more than halfway finished the novel and, so help me, I can't find any connection between the front cover and the contents except for the title and author's name. Those match up.

As to everything else, it remains a mystery. A fascinating one, to be sure. Wouldn't this cover make you want to read the book, just to find out what on earth was going on?


Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said...

This cover is very disturbing

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mee said...

gosh, and the title! The title is not good at all, isn't it? I wouldn't ever read a book with Dog-eaters as the title.

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raych said...

This...I may die. You have never been funnier.

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Christine said...

Well, mee, the title is relevant to a certain point. It's a novel about the Philippines in the 1950s and 1970s -- and probably most of us are familiar with the ethnic stereotype/slur that Asians eat dogs. Nobody does eat a dog in the novel, although the term "dogeater" is used a few times as a slur. There's also a reference to someone who is poor and worried that "soon there won't be anything to eat but dogs" (not an exact quote, but that's the idea). So, it's a strange choice, but it at least does tie in with certain elements of the narrative.

The cover, though? I've got nothing.

glumpuddle said...

Apparently the cover is a reproduction of an oil paint called "Polemics of Life." And you should see the other paintings...

glumpuddle said...

totally just noticed that the cover is reversed from the painting.

Christine said...

Ooh, good researching. So now we've got a reversed, be-oranged copy of Polemics of Life. From the original painting, it looks like the gaping torso wound is revealing stomach and intestinal matter; it's not a womb after all. Oh, and there's a lizard, which I totally didn't notice until now.

Curiouser and curiouser.

And of course, we have to ask whether the title of the piece illuminates anything about the painting. Here's the definition of polemics from our friends at Miriam-Webster:

1 a: an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another b: the art or practice of disputation or controversy —usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction
2: an aggressive controversialist : disputant

Okay, go!

glumpuddle said...

i got nuttin - you've read the book, does this shed light?

glumpuddle said...

woops, I do have something. the artist is also from the Philippines. Maybe that's the connection?

mee said...

Christine, the title kinda makes sense now.
I saw the real painting from the link that glumpuddle gave. Wasn't very attractive either.

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Callista said...

Wow that is just WEIRD! Actually no I wouldn't read the book because of the cover. But it should win a prize for weirdest cover.

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Lisa said...

I agree with Callista - that is the strangest cover I think I've ever seen. And no, I don't think I would read the book for many reasons! That's just freaky.

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Drew said...

Veeerrry interesting. Definitally a book I would at least pick up and flip through in a bookstore/library.

I actually find the cover to be brilliant, even though I have no idea what the book itself is about.