Girls Who Saw Everything UK Cover Contest

The UK is a-buzz with the release of The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal, the UK edition of Sean Dixon's The Girls Who Saw Everything (published by HarperCollins UK). The Fifth Estate asked Sean about his favourite moments from the cover contest held for the book's publication:

1) First thrill of seeing submissions. (Look! There’s my name! Look at all the pretty pictures!)

2) Look there’s my name take two: discovering comment postings by someone pretending to be me (Sixon), pompously explaining why I like or do not like a particular submission. It was all I could do not to defend myself, as I felt that would open the floodgates (‘I’m Brian’, ‘No I’m Brian’, ‘I’m Brian and so’s my wife.’) I also worried that the same thing was happening to some of the artists.

3) The bust of Bob Marley, The End of Lovey’All (submitted everywhere I guess); the painting of a running man with the head of a rabbit; various other surreal submissions, landscapes, sculptures, revenge fantasies, protests again prostitution or starvation, all tailored not to compete but to provoke. What else is an artist going to do? Most such submissions were later taken down, so they could be freshly posted elsewhere I imagine.

4) B&W photo of a nude woman lounging on a hardwood floor, the striped shadow of a blind falling across her body. Comments on the page accused it of being smutty and irrelevant but I saw it as a surprising effort to depict the character of Emmy Jones – evidence the submitter had read the book. (Still, it disappeared after a week or so, without explanation, leading me to wonder whether the artist had posted without the model’s permission.)

5) Hugh Thomas. Early in the contest, someone with this name posted a comment. A glitch in the system picked up his name and used it every time a poster did not identify himself. Since the great majority of anonymous postings were shall we say cutting, Hugh Thomas became vilified as the ubercritic of the whole contest. In the closing days, someone posted a cover with the title ‘The Last Days of Hugh Thomas,’ and was roundly praised as the winner.

6) The epic battle over the appropriateness of Raluca Costache’s submission, with the title written delicately across a series of sanitary towels. This passionate argument – with its outrageous assertions, noble defenses and outspoken protagonist – mirrored for me a session of the Lacuna Cabal Montreal Young Women’s Book Club. To me, the submission was appropriate because it was reminiscent of the book’s central character, Runner Coghill, and her questionable social behaviour.

7) Posting a comment. I finally broke my silence when artist Rusty Gladdish described the book as depicting a single male protagonist followed by a group of ‘prim ladies’. I decided to be offended on behalf of the novel’s narrators and posted. However I didn’t fill in the ‘your name’ line for fear that ‘Jennifer H & Danielle D’ would replace ‘Hugh Thomas’ as the default name, and so was identified, naturally, as Hugh Thomas.

8) Unsung favourites: the girl falling away from the yacht, papers flying, by James Lawley; also the green foot by Zuzana Kerdova.

9) Among the finalists, I loved the city and the girl in the boat with Saddam Hussein toppled behind her, but more as art-art than cover art. Was glad to see that a submission with a spelling error (Cabul) made the short list. I also loved the disqualified finalist, whoever she really was.

10) I liked the winning submission a lot, by Becca Thorne, but was completely blown away when I saw it on the finished book.

To read the story online, and for links to the see the cover finalists, visit: http://fifthestate.co.uk/2008/06/ten-notable-moments-in-the-saatchi-cove...

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