A typography treatise that delights, an interview with a crime author turned TV writer and an app with a difference.
US award-winning crime author Harlan Coben has published 27 books in 25 years and sold more than 50 million copies in more than 40 languages. He is best known for the Myron Bolitar series, centred around the eponymous sports agent, and standalone novels including Play Dead and Gone For Good.
He is now turning his hand to television for the first time and has eschewed the traditional US system to create two international series. No Second Chance, which centres around a successful surgeon who must save his kidnapped family after waking up in hospital, is based on his book. It is produced for French broadcaster TF1 by Vab Productions and executively produced by Bones showrunner Francois Velle. The Five, which is based on an original idea and tells the story of the disappearance of a young boy, is being produced by StudioCanal-owned Red for Sky in the UK and written in association with The Driver’s Danny Brocklehurst.
Why did you move into television?
I had been toying around with this idea for The Five; I was debating turning it into a novel but I always saw it as something more visual with four main characters. I thought it would be good to take the idea for a novel and make it into a series straight away, rather than creating a novel and adapting it later.
Why have your books never been adapted before?
I’m a novelist first and foremost and the movie and television industry hasn’t really interested me all that much; novelists tend not to play well with others. My stories are also fairly plot-heavy so to try and strip them down to an hour-and-a-half each is tougher than being able to expand them. But the quality of television in the past few years, with shows such as Breaking Bad and Lost, means it is more my medium than movies would be.
Is the process different?
I can only do one thing at a time: I have to be completely obsessed or I’m not going to do it. And I don’t need a TV show: I’m not on the breadline. However, I have been able to create a show while continuing to write novels and I’m enjoying this new way of working.
Television tends to be more open-ended than novels; how do you deal with that?
The Five is a complete story; you’re going to find out what happens. I don’t like it when you’re left with a cliffhanger, when you invest eight hours in a story and then at the end someone says you’ll hear the outcome next year. I don’t know if I want to do more seasons of these shows but if I do I might do them in the True Detective or American Horror Story anthology style.
Would you consider doing more television?
It has made me think about doing a show in the US; I’m experimenting and working with a couple of major show runners there but I need to be realistic about how much I can stretch myself.
Why did you do Tell No One in France?
I sell the most copies in France; I’m the Jerry Lewis of crime fiction.
As a reaction against the way in which we portray ourselves on social media, Martin Adolfsson and Canadian artist Daniel J Wilson have founded Minutiae, an app that comes with a two-volume, 2,880-page handbound photo album. The app rings an alarm at a random time every day, for 1,440 consecutive days, urging you to photograph what happens to be in front of you as a way of celebrating the ordinary.
What is the idea behind Minutiae?
It was born out of the idea that mundane experiences make up the majority of our lives and therefore deserve to be documented. It is an anti-social media experiment that urges participants to document their everyday moments. There is no “liking”, no profiles, no friends, no following and no filters; it removes the pressure of self-curation that exists in social media.
What are you saying about the way in which we present ourselves?
A recent Harvard study showed that we significantly underestimate our future interest in the “ordinary” present. In other words, we are bad at judging what is interesting and important to our future selves.
What accidentally artistic and profound moments have been captured?
With Minutiae it could be said that every captured moment is an accident – that’s the whole point. During our beta-testing we have been struck by the unplanned beauty of our everyday actions. Daniel’s favourite photograph is of his kitchen sink; the alarm went off when he was washing dishes. It made him consider how certain memories can be erased through repetition and worry about the everyday experiences he has forgotten over the years.
From US high-end hi-fi brand Acoustic Research comes a mighty alternative to the ubiquitous iPod. The M2 is packed with the highest specification components rather than clever tricks (although it will pal up with the latest tech too) in order to deliver the highest-resolution sound. The size of a pack of cards, built like a tank and beautifully finished to boot.
This fresh treatise on typography from London-based design duo Henrik Kubel and Scott Williams of A2/SW/HK studio is not so much an exercise in defining brave new worlds in type as a celebration of work that they really like. In New Perspectives in Typography there’s wayfinding in Newcastle; David Bowie’s Heathen album sleeve; and packaging for Denmark’s state pharmacy chain.
What a joy to simply know that these exist and how civilised to be presented with a point of view on them; also, how nourishing to be given an expert’s take that, despite the specificity of the examples, is accessible and amusing. Essays from the likes of Rick Poynor and Emily King attend to the “voice” of typography and words in art. A book of text that manages to seem not at all like a textbook.