Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Picture Is Worth a 1000 Spoken Words

I usually try to illustrate my reviews with the images provided by the publisher of the audiobook. LibriVox volunteers in particular have done a great job at designing covers for their public domain audiobooks. Sometimes, there is no cover image for the book, especially when I'm reviewing a short story or poem. In these cases, I have to search for a Creative Commons or public domain image to use instead.  These searches often turn up with great images. I've included a few of my favorites below. You can find the license and credits by clicking on the story links.

"My Oedipus Complex" by Frank O'Connor:  I love how this picture echoes the themes in the story. Although this is a photograph, the mother looks almost painted in, reflecting the idealisation of the mother in the story. She has a world-weary look on her face, while the boy in her lap directly engages the camera with a mischievous glance.

The Rocking Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence: Another story of Oedipal love and a conflicted childhood, this story is full of references to Freud's ideas of childhood sexuality. The photograph I found for this has the titular rocking horse, carved and appropriately decorated for the time and setting of the story. The shadows on the horse make it look sinister, however, and the wall shadow is vaguely phallic, fitting in with Freudian theme.

From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp: According to the New York Times, this short book was an inspiration for the tactics used to overthrow dictatorial governments during the Arab Spring. This photo from a Wikipedia article caught my eye with the sense of impending freedom embodied in the young man holding the Egyptian flag against the sky.

"The Emperor of Ice Cream" by Wallace Stevens: In a reverse of my usual procedure for writing a review, I found this photograph after I listened to the poem, but before I started to review it. The image of the melting ice cream influenced how I saw the central theme of the poem: life as temporary, but sweet.

"The Dinner Party" by Joshua Ferris: I laughed out loud when I first saw this one. It's an old record album on how to host a dinner party. The wholesome corniness of the 1950's image contrasts beautifully with the dark themes of the story. The fact that the dinner party in the story turns out quite far from the "Perfect Dinner Party" promised in the image makes it particularly funny.

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