Received proof copies of SAOS recently. They look good. Even though the trend-watchers say the hot color for book covers is BRIGHT yellow, I decided on an elegant colonial (or maybe steel?) blue that my designer Denise Nielsen of Pandenwolf Creative selected. It’s actually a textured pattern, evoking cloth. At first we were going for an aged and distressed look, to convey the “history” contained in the stories. Eventually though, general aesthetics won out: I looked on my bookshelf and really liked the elegant and simple design and color palette of the cover of the paperback version of ZZ Packer’s “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” , so that’s the direction we took for the final version.
The cover art, “Pullman Porter” , is a piece by D.C. artist Dana Ellyn. It was part of a very neat project she did, commemorating neighborhoods along DC’s Cultural Tourism Heritage Trails. The Pullman Porter, represents the H Street area around Union Station. (From the guide: “When it opened in 1907, Union Station was the world’s largest railroad terminal. For African American men the job of porter on a Pullman Company luxury rail car was among the best available.”)
A signature character in the title story “Strivers” is a porter as was my maternal grandfather Peter W. Lamar. I grew up steep in the lore and historical narratives surrounding pullman porters–their dignity, pride and work-ethic; them being a conduit for passing information between regions; their (sometimes overstated) rolls in creating a segment of the black middle class in some cities.