Brain Pickings Icon
Brain Pickings

Outstanding in the Rain: A Die-Cut Adventure in Words and Meaning

How to turn an ice man into a nice man.

“Words belong to each other,” Virginia Woolf asserted in the only surviving recording of her voice, and out of that belonging sometimes spring miraculous surprises. In Outstanding in the Rain (public library), illustrator, graphic designer, and MTA subway artist Frank Viva takes us on a trip to Coney Island — but it is no ordinary trip. Rather, it’s a most unusual adventure in wordplay and meaning.

Partway between Italian graphic designer Bruno Munari’s pioneering vintage “interactive” picture-books, novelist Jonathan Safran Foer’s mashup masterwork Tree of Codes, and Indian artist Ramsingh Urveti’s imaginative die-cut adaptation of a 17th-century trick poem, the story — sweet, warm, and just the right amount of mischievous — is punctuated by cleverly placed die-cut holes through which one word peeks into another as the narrative progresses. Each turn of the page delights with its unexpected twist of word-wielding and meaning-morphing.

At its heart is a wondrous celebration of words and how we arrange those strange symbols called letters to make sense of the world and how that sense changes when we rearrange those symbols even slightly — something that calls to mind the unusual alphabet book Take Away the A. And yet, conceptual parallels and influences aside, Viva’s work is wholly original in both style and sensibility — vibrant and honest and full of joy.

Complement Outstanding in the Rain with the die-cut wonder I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tale.

Published April 14, 2015




Filed Under

View Full Site

Brain Pickings participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I get a small percentage of its price. That helps support Brain Pickings by offsetting a fraction of what it takes to maintain the site, and is very much appreciated