Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Review, The Learners by Chip Kidd

Chip Kidd's second novel, The Learners, The Book after the Cheese Monkeys, had gotten in my hands soon after hearing the news he'd be speaking at SUNY Oswego in September. I quickly ordered it from the library and began to read.

The book starts in 1961 with the main character, nicknamed Happy, applying for a job following the footsteps of a favorite professor at an advertising agency in New Haven, CT. While the story weaves around humorous office characters, nicknames and drama it also falls deep into a mysterious suicide of, Himillsy, a college girlfriend of Happy's. Happy starts piecing together Himillsy's reasons for death and fails prey to the same doleful emotions caused by their involvements in a psychological "obedience experiment".

Although the book was a bit dark, it did have some great elements. My favorites were his emotion/expression typography studies, and his mid-story italicized thoughts of wit and irony. Basically what this book studied was how psychology and design work together or against each other. What I have also learned from this book, from both Chip Kidd and Stanley Milgram, the "obedience experiment" scientist, is to think before I follow, that things aren't what they seem and to think twice before participating in medical studies. Either way, I think it's a good book to get under your skin.

See you in Oswego, Chip.

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