Wolitzer is right on the money, at least in this grouping — the text is large and blocky or scripted in fat marker lettering, the colors neutral or, in the case of The Art of Fielding, decidedly masculine. The Marriage Plot doesn’t seem the least bit out of order to us, the ring, as Wolitzer points out, barely registers as a wedding band, even with that title sitting on top of it — instead it seems mathematical, a comment on infinity rather than fidelity. David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King is the most subdued of the bunch, but he doesn’t need any extra flash — everyone knew this novel as going to be an event whether the letters were writ large or no. Still though, they’re all in caps, and there’s nothing frilly about the art — just a king and some words. The Tragedy of Arthur is an interesting case — the hardcover fits snugly in with its loud letting, but the paperback seems to be telling a different story altogether. We wonder what that change is about?
Indeed, the book covers by women are by and large more delicate, both in lettering and illustration — the images are fuzzy, painted or hazy or quirkily drawn, and there seems, for some reason, to be a heck of a lot more serifs than on the men’s covers. Plus, without us trying for it, there’s a double showing of that golden yellow color that we seem to see everywhere these days. Was there a focus group that said that color made ladies want to buy books more than others? We bet there was. The notable exception to the rule in this grouping is A Visit From the Goon Squad, which looks like it belongs on the boys’ shelf with its large block letters, unfeminine colors, and bold and simple design. We hate to say it, but maybe that’s part of the reason the book got so much attention (well, that and its sheer brilliance, of course).