Brain Pickings

The Creators of ‘Go the Fuck to Sleep’ on Werner Herzog’s Irreverent Reading

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One cultural icon’s rendition of another.

With his distinctive diction and almost-ironic gravitas of tone, celebrated German director Werner Herzog, who celebrates his seventy-first birthday this year, has spawned a number of amusing parodic voiceovers. But his reading of the hipster classic Go the Fuck to Sleep (public library) is very much real and timelessly delightful in every possible way:

In this discussion at LIVE from the NYPL — the wonderful event series masterminded by Paul Holdengräber that gave us the 7-word autobiographies of cultural icons — Holdengräber talks to GTFTS author Adam Mansbach and illustrator Ricardo Cortés about the book’s subtler cultural commentary, the art of cover design, and what it’s like to have Herzog read their book and for that reading to become a classic in its own right:

This little picture book is the physical manifestation of ­parental-impostor syndrome. You’re not even good enough at being a parent to get a break from being a parent. Shouldn’t you know how to make this little person go to bed?

Go the Fuck to Sleep was followed by Seriously, Just Go to Sleep. Cortés has since branched out into visual journalism with the fantastic A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola, which was among the best graphic nonfiction of 2012.

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