cover image International Lonely Guy

International Lonely Guy

Harland Miller, with contributions by Ed Ruscha, Sophie Fiennes, Gordon Burn, and Jarvis Cocker. Rizzoli, $45 (141pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-2928-6

This lavishly illustrated but unsatisfying volume features a series of paintings in which writer and artist Miller uses the cover design of the old Penguin Classics as impetus for word play with book titles. In each work the artist begins with the familiar Penguin cover, then paints in invented titles as well as coffee stains, tattered edges and other signs of use. Some of his titles refer to the works of famous authors, such as Ernest Hemingway, who is represented by such titles as 61 with a Bullet. In the "bad weather pictures," Miller plays on cities in northern England, where he grew up. One book, Plan B, was inspired by a friend's suicide. Sometimes he reproduces inscriptions found in used books, and he also depicts a few back-cover mug shots that simulate author photos. The text, which includes a discursive essay by the artist and rambling interviews with Ed Ruscha et al., sheds some light on the genesis of these paintings, but for the most part the text is too irrelevant and the self-referential titles are not clever enough to relieve the monotony of a large number of paintings all based on the same design. (May)