Life During Wartime
Laurel Saville is a well known design writer. Last year, she sent me the manuscript for a book she had written, Postmortem, and asked me to design the cover. She described the book in her email to me as a story about her relationship with her mother. I anticipated a nice and polite story with a few angry episodes and a wonderful growing experience at the end. I thought it would be a literary version of a Lifetime network movie. I was wrong. The opening chapter could be summed up in this sentence by Laurel, "By the time she was in her 40s, she was a dirty vagrant bumming cigarette butts; at 53, she was stabbed and strangled in a burned-out building that had once been our home near Hollywood and Vine." Not to sound too corny, but I couldn't put the manuscript down. I read all of it on a flight from LAX to JFK. Now I had to do justice to the quality of the story with the cover. The story, for me, was not about a tragic murder, but about life on the edge, emotionally and literally. There was an aspect of growing up in turmoil. Not the on-going abuse of a parent, but of the floor being ripped out unexpectedly, of standing by helplessly as someone actively destroys their own life. Now, you may say, this isn't too optimistic, and that's why I'm here at burningsettlerscabin. But it is. Laurel built a life for herself that is full of success and joy. She did this in the midst of a constant blazing car accident. That's heroic.