I love these covers and I love these books. Every time I go into a used bookstore, I look for VINTAGE CONTERMPORARIES. They published Harry Crews, James Crumley, Cormac, McGuane, Carver, Joy William, Gore Vidals campier stuff and Richard Ford. I found this great article on their covers. Great stuff.—Grimbol

Editor Gary Fisketjon launched Vintage Contemporaries, a paperback imprint of Random House, in September 1984. There were seven initial titles. By decade’s end, there would be close to 100. The line was a mix of reprints and originals, and nearly thirty years later the checklist found in the back of the books reads like a ballot for some Cooperstown of late-20th Century fiction.

checklist #a checklist #b

At the time, however, the series was far more renowned for its design: the checklists, color-banded spines, dot matrix accents, often surreal artwork and equally cryptic colophon.

Many freelance artists provided the cover images—a few with regularity—under the guidance of art directors Judith Loeser and, following Loeser’s death in 1988, Susan Mitchell. The person who came up with the uniform, De Stijl layout, and the one whose name can be found on the back of those hundred or so books—that was Lorraine Louie.

A native of…

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