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Black and white and read all over

May 10, 2010 |  3:28 pm
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Occasionally we spot a book jacket meme, a bunch of covers that all seem to have something in common. Take these new books: Kitty Kelley's "Oprah" biography and Chuck Palahniuk's "Tell-All" both have bright bold letters on a stark white background. Palahniuk's new novel plays with boldfaced names and classic, scandalous Hollywood; Kelley's unauthorized biography does its best to dig up some Oprah dirt. Both white covers seem to be inverting the idea that white is equivalent to good. Not so for the so-ice-blue-it's-almost-white cover of Molly Ringwald's "Getting the Pretty Back," which uses its pale tones to highlight the sweetness of the actress's tale of "friendships, family and finding the perfect lipstick."

If white covers evoke lightness (even ironic lightness), a black cover sends a message of seriousness. Scott Turow's new novel "Innocent" and "The Imperfectionists," the debut novel from Tom Rachman, share an imposing, manly black-and-brown palette.

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But it was these two black covers that really go together. "The Book of Awesome" by Neil Pasricha, from the blog 1,000 Awesome Things, and Robin Black's debut collection of stories "If I Loved You I Would Tell You This" seem to have been designed with the almost exactly the same paint set. White text, accents if orange and yellow and turquoise and pink or purple, all on a black background. And this for an author's whose last name is "black." Coincidence? You decide.

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What seemed at first like two opposing trends actually, when it came right down to it, seemed to fit together after all. Somebody lent the black-cover paint set to the designer working on "Tell-All" -- the brights are quite the same, popping out from the very different white background. Palahniuk's book is the missing link.

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If you go to a bookstore, you'll see plenty of other colors too. But these black and white covers are bound to be (and yes, I'm going to say it) read all over.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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