Despite our editors’ voracious appetite for the written word and passion for rock-solid reviews, some Booklist issue spotlights are just easier to craft than others. The July Spotlight on Business is notoriously tricky, not only because we receive fewer books about penny-pinching than we do zombie-slaying, but also because—let’s face it: we’re word people. Statistics? Fractions? Percentages? We ran from mathematics years ago, seeking comfort in subjective, qualitative English degrees. And let me tell you, those language degrees really teach you how to avoid the question.
So it was no surprise when audio editor Joyce Saricks offered the expertly crafted Hit Men Tell Tales, her spotlight on “business” that collected fictional guidebooks detailing how to kill for a living. But, in keeping with the theme, Joyce’s article makes quick work of some simple math: when you kill for a living, the bodies add up fast.
Some simple math: when you
kill for a living, the bodies
add up fast.
Joyce’s list of stellar reading suggestions leaves a parabolic curve of skeletons in its wake. Skulls are an obvious image for books about death, but—like the titles themselves—the covers from her column feature clever allusions and negative-space imagery that works on several levels.
For instance, The Intern’s Handbook (see above) riffs off the Jolly Roger but with office supplies. (And who hasn’t thought of at least nine ways a paperclip could be employed to render an office mate less irritating?)
Even more striking is The Sisters Brothers. Good ol’ Ben Franklin’s hundred-dollar visage starring as man in the moon certainly echoes Joyce’s discovery that death and business are two disciplines oft intertwined.
Look on for more skull-inspired covers that will likely lead to some fascinating reads.
Actors Anonymous, by James Franco
The Headhunters, by Jo Nesbo
The Undertaking of Lily Chen, by Danica Novgorodoff
Fiend, by Peter Stenson
The Return, Michael Gruber
The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton
How the Dead Live, by Derek Raymond