Inside the Insta-Cover Games – The New York Times

Mindless and irresistible as chain letters or on-line surveys, most web challenges are like Michael Corleone’s mob in “The Godfather: Part III.” You think about you’ve given them the slip they usually suck you again in. As a rule, I keep away from these seductive time traps. Yet there I used to be lately, scrolling by Instagram for the 10th time that day, after I discovered the Seven Day Book Cover Challenge and was immediately hooked.

Actually, that’s a misstatement. This innocuous sport, which asks customers to put up a photograph of a guide cowl on a social media platform daily for per week, requires an invite; it’s a problem, in any case. Since nobody had really tagged me, I figured I’d ask.

The individual I approached was the vogue illustrator and stylist Bill Mullen, whose droll feed — equal components memoir, type commentary and grim account of a renovation from hell carried out by an upstairs neighbor he refers to as Minnie Castavet — has turn into digital catnip for these of us hooked on a rising pattern for utilizing Instagram to put in writing lengthy.

Mullen himself had been challenged by @thebookmarc, the bookselling department of the designer Marc Jacobs’s empire, and his every day guide posts skewed irresistibly towards oddball obscurities.

Day 1 discovered him posting a crumbling, yellowed paperback copy of “The Velvet Underground,” a 1963 investigation into “aberrant behavior” amongst consenting adults, a picture he accessorized with an assortment of intercourse toys that regarded like they’d harm. Day 2 featured an unknown (to me) fan-bio-cum-takedown of Blondie by the nice and lamented rock critic Lester Bangs, with a canopy that includes a youthful Debbie Harry.

There adopted on Day three a classic Charles Addams guide of cartoons and, subsequent, a replica of the 1965 “Hollywood Babylon,” Kenneth Anger’s lascivious (and factually doubtful) account of the inhabitants of Tinseltown and their sordid antics.

This, too, had its appeal. Once, in a long ago interview, the filmmaker Joel Schumacher remarked that — while he would not want them all simultaneously to walk into one room — he did not regret anyone he’s ever slept with. This, essentially, is how I feel about my books. Each, in its own way, made sense at the time. Most are still around, though I don’t think about them all that much.

The titles I chose were not so much intended to frame my intellectual landscape as to provide a frisson or engender a laugh. I posted what I liked and what came readily to hand. With each volume laid out on a rug in my apartment I did my best with an iPhone to prevent my shadow from falling across, say, a rare copy of “My Face for the World to See,” the autobiography of the Warhol superstar Candy Darling and a book whose cover — the pink vinyl of a schoolgirl’s diary, replete with gilded lock — obviates any need to bother with the text.

Next I posted “Ceylon,” a 1950 book of gauzy homoerotic black-and-white photographs by Lionel Wendt, a pianist and polymath Pablo Neruda deemed the pivotal figure in the evolution of national identity in postcolonial Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. I was delighted to discover that book, having forgotten I owned it, and bemused afterward to learn that it now sells online for $1,800. After that came Dennis Cooper’s too little appreciated 1984 novella “Safe,” a book whose black-and-white cover photograph of an orgasmic man seemed prophetic in its resemblance to that on Hanya Yanagihara’s 2015 best-selling novel, “A Little Life.”

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