The Question of the Candle
As many of you know, the cover of my first novel Looking for Alaska features a candle that has been snuffed out, leading to an improbably large plume of smoke.
The candle was not part of the original cover design. Originally, it was just the smoke. But then some people at certain bookstore chains were like, “That looks like cigarette smoke,” and we were like, “Yeah, that’s because it is cigarette smoke,” and these bookstore chains were unhappy about this, because smoking is bad for your health and I guess seeing smoke on a book cover might make young people want to acquire emphysema? Or something. It was never very clear to me.
So anyway, we added the astonishingly smoky candle because we wanted these bookstore chains to carry and support Looking for Alaska (which they did, and I am certainly very grateful for it).
But more than seven years later, we are preparing to re-release the hardcover of Looking for Alaska, and both Julie Strauss-Gabel (the publisher) and I (the author) want to remove the candle for this re-released version, giving the book the cover it was originally intended to have. But on the other hand, I know a lot of people feel very strongly about the (not particularly compelling imho) metaphorical resonances of the snuffed out candle.
I realize this is a lot of hemming and hawing about the bottom inch of a book jacket, but this stuff is important to us. So, what—if anything—is your opinion? And why?
1948 Notes/ Hide
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- frenchlellama answered: I always neglect the candle when I look at it anyway. I say remove it!
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- photogirl93 answered: I don’t think the candle is needed. the smoke is going up, aka candle. cigarette smoke would go from left to right.
- fullyfunctioningmorgan answered: Get rid of the candle so the book is slightly different and more you.
- dftbalaurenjury answered: I think that the candle should be kept, personally, but I suppose it isn’t a huge deal if it is taken out.
- butmyroostergoes answered: Both. Because both are very significant in the story, because cigarettes were such a large element in the novel, and because Alaska RAN OUT O
- idrathercut answered: The candle to me was Alaska. She’s burnt out. You wouldn’t know it unless you tried to light her, but she’s burnt out.
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- inthenameofthemooon answered: Cigarette! It’s better if it’s has the authors vision on the cover art & I never saw a huge metaphor in the candle, either.
- inbetweengreens answered: I’ve never noticed the candle at the bottom, so I think you get the same affect with the candle as you might without it.
- foreverday answered: Just the smoke. It’s a novel about youth and bad decisions and living and it suits it (and I sort of thought it was a river first glance)
- spilledmysoysauce answered: down with the candle!
- maia-saura answered: I assumed the candle was part of Alaska’s multicolored mega candle that Pudge helps her make.
- cuquiface answered: I can’t stand smoking and cigarettes. However, smoke from a cigarette on a book cover wouldn’t stop be from reading/liking a book.
- theeleganteuropeanwoman answered: I think the content of the book is never determined by the cover. there can still be a metaphorical snuffed out candle, just not on the book.
- clairegoesskating answered: remove it
- eyesforeverwithpride answered: The candle should be gone.Though it kind of fits into the book the cigarette(smoke) is so symbolic to the plot.People just need to read it
- voltaireon answered: Stand up for what you want in a cover: No candle. You’ve already proven it is a fantastic book, and the cover should help represent that.
- whisperingchampagneandstars answered: No candle; the smoke in itself is enough to convey that sense of something once fiery now a wisp disappearing. The cig thing = overthinking.
- mangaroothemagnificent answered: I agree that the metaphorical candle isn’t very compelling. As a great admirer of LLFA, I think the cigarette smoke is much more meaningful.
- yestheywanteggsrory answered: Go with the original, it’s what it should be.
- amazonwomynrise answered: Remove it.
- reallycatherine answered: Take out the candle.
- deathcatforkitty answered: I think the symbolism is beautiful, and I will be kind of mad if you change it, in all honesty :)