Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far

Usually, graphic designers are know as formulators -- with emphasis on form -- making what others have to say look good. But industry darling Stefan Sagmeister (best known for creating iconic album covers for the likes of Lou Reed and David Byrne) has produced an unbound book illustrating his own aphoristic maxims, and the globetrotting shenanigans he employed to stage them: the result is worth not just reading, but beholding. First, TIHLIMLSF is a fun thing to play with -- a die-cut cardboard box (outlining the author's face) with contents that can be shuffled to create radically different "covers." Muppet blue! Mad monkey mask! Pimples! Silly, but irrationally satisfying.Sagmeister not only has a mighty morphing mind, he also literally puts a lot of himself into his work. This monograph of projects represents a series of performance-art-stunt extremes: he dangled his legs outside an Empire State Building office window holding a sign and traveled to a shuttered amusement park in Singapore to erect bamboo scaffolding spelling out words on a man-sized scale. That he convinced his corporate clients to underwrite these wacky, costly endeavors is itself impressive. In the final analysis, the greatest value this exuberant catalogue offers is as a creative challenge; he makes it clear that if a merry prankster like him can have this much (lucrative) fun, so can you.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."