Shelf Life

The cover of the March 27th New Yorker, “Shelf Life” by Luci Gutiérrez:


Oh, a set of shelves. And a map. Of Manhattan. With objects on the shelves evoking particular neighborhoods. Cool.

On the magazine’s site:

I drew a bookshelf, and the lines made me think of the streets of a map,” Luci Gutiérrez says, about her cover for this week’s issue. Another inspiration for her image: Wunderkammern, the cabinets of curiosities created in the Renaissance to display collections of extraordinary objects. “I don’t have this particular piece of furniture, but I wish I did. I keep strange and pretty objects,” Gutiérrez says. “It can be a chocolate paper wrapper or a Japanese mask. . . . they provide me with a way to remember the place they come from.”

Gutiérrez’s first appearance on this blog. But she’s a wonderfully quirky illustrator and writer. Here’s the Amazon writeup for her 2015 book English Is Not Easy: A Visual Guide to the Language:

A cheeky, sophisticated, and strikingly illustrated guide that leaves generic English reference books in the dust

When prominent Barcelona-based illustrator Luci Gutiérrez found herself tuning out in English class, she used her love of drawing to help retain what she’d learned. Ditching the kind of bland and useless phrases that fill most English textbooks, Gutiérrez uses whimsical characters, cheeky dialogue, and even insults to bring vocabulary, grammar, and usage topics to life.

Nearly forty-seven million people in the United States speak a language other than English at home, and even most native speakers struggle with subtle distinctions, such as when to use “whether” as opposed to “if.” (For example: I wonder whether I should have added a little more poison to his tea.) Already published to wide acclaim abroad, English Is Not Easy is sure to delight grammar mavens and students of English in America.

A sample illustration from the volume:


Many of her illustrations are about women and men, their relationships (including sexual relationships) and their bodies, especially women’s bodies, especially vaginas.

Most of her high-vaginality cartoons / illustrations would probably have to go to AZBlogX, but here’s one that might scrape by on this blog and in social media (now that women’s nipples are acceptable):


¿Mentimos en las encuestas o es rigurosamente cierto que, para un polvo ocasional, lo que más nos interesa de un hombre es el sentido del humor?

Google Translate offers this English version of the caption:

Do we lie in the polls or is it strictly true that, for an occasional dust, what interests us most about a man is the sense of humor?

One small infelicity (should be: his sense of humor), one entertaining screw-up: polvo is literally ‘dust’ but in slang ‘a shag, fuck, screw’.

Finally, a bit of political cross-dressing:


Originally published in 1978 in Spain when gender equality left much to be desired; republished in 2015 with new illustrations by Luci Gutierrez

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