I picked up a copy of Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal as part of my husband's Christmas present (he cooks; I eat). The idea of the book -- that there is joy and grace and resourcefulness in cooking, and that we might find beauty in a meal's whole process -- is so appealing that I'll be reading it also.
Here's Tamar to talk about how the lovely cover came about (it too has a very organic feel):
"I did have an idea for the cover, not as early as proposal-writing, but only because I didn't want to jinx the book. Once I knew the book was going to be published, I had a clear picture of its cover in mind. I envisioned a simple line drawing on a plain, heavy, dark white background. Something that made it seem like the book might have been written and designed decades ago, and always been sitting comfortably on your shelf.
"I was monumentally behind on my manuscript when the cover conversation began--behind enough that postponing publication had been discussed, but not so behind that my promise of being able to make my deadline wasn't credible. My editor was worried that if she asked me to start thinking about the cover I'd get distracted by its outside and end up late on its inside, so work on it started before I was consulted.
"I wasn't happy with the first version. It wasn't a drawing but a photograph, and it was very pretty but, I thought, a little impersonal and prim. It had a maroon background with an ochre border and a photograph of vegetables inside. The vegetables didn't look happy in their skins and wouldn't have tasted good cooked together. The book exists to make people feel enticed to cook, and something about the reserve and discordance of the images seemed wrong. The book also illustrates how meals can flow from each other, each one picking up something from the meal before it, leaving some of itself off, and the sharp borders felt not quite right.
"No one budged on the line drawing idea, but they listened to my reservations about the image. The art department sent me the whole portfolio of the photographer whose image they'd suggested, hoping I'd find one of them a good fit. I could see why the art director liked them: they were lovely pictures--the photographer is incredibly talented, and there were some really interesting photographs. None of them spoke to me, though.
"I realized that in order for a photograph to feel right, it would have to be one taken while someone was actually cooking. There's a movement to actual cooking that's more beautiful than anything you can set up. And it seemed dishonest, on the front of a book about the grace and economy of grounded cooking, to do anything but show a glimpse of it in progress. Then, of course, I realized that really, it had to be a picture of my cooking, since I don't really know how other people cook, and the book is about how I cook. Scribner gently suggested that I hire my own photographer. So my oldest friend took out her camera and shot while I tried to ignore her and cleaned the little white turnips on the cover, which I was going to boil for dinner. There was nothing posed about the picture. I'd never realized it, but I like making pretty piles of things while I prepare them. The aesthetics of every moment of cooking can be so engaging, if you allow yourself to engage them. When we looked at the photos, we just picked one with particularly good-looking piles and sent it in. The art director moved the piles around in photo shop, and there we were. The bleeding of the table on which I was cleaning them---because I'm invariably too lazy to use a cutting board--became the background for the whole cover.
"It's a beautiful cover. It's completely different than what I pictured, and it conveys things I never would imagined the cover would. The table being the background of the whole book encapsulates the book in the preparation of a meal. That I happen to keep all the leaves from whatever I'm preparing in a promising looking pile makes keeping vegetable scraps seem exciting, even beautiful. It looks better thought out than it was, and that, in itself, is so much like the best meals. We rarely know exactly why we enjoy them as much as we do. And I think the cover has some of that."
Thanks, Tamar! I love the thought that went into this cover, and the honesty shines through. It truly makes me want to start chopping right this minute. I can't wait to read the book!
What do you guys think?
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Melissa Walker is the author of five Young Adult novels, including the Violet trilogy, Lovestruck Summer and 2011's Small Town Sinners. She is co-creator of the popular teen newsletter I Heart Daily and the awkward-stage blog Before You Were Hot, as well as the blogger for readergirlz.com. Her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com.