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May 1, 1998

Yesterday I bought a book, Gentleman Junkie by Graham Caveney, a biography of the late American artist William S. Burroughs. I bought it because it reminded me of The Further Inquiry, another book that is more valuable as an object than repository of words. The biography by Caveney is a good introduction to Burroughs's life and work, but what makes it a joy to flip through is the excellent design by Simon Jennings. Pages are washed, spattered and splattered with paint; when you focus on the background the text becomes transparent.

Artifacts such as hat-cleaning receipts and photographs of the Beats are embellished with color, wit and vigor, making GJ reminiscent of B's own funky scrapbooks. The paper is heavy, textured, and something--maybe the ink--smells good. It's like a fresh textbook when you're in the first grade, eagerly flipping through looking at the pictures.

excerpt from Gentleman Junkie by Graham Caveney