Book Review: The Crap Hound Big Book of Unhappiness

The Crap Hound Big Book of Unhappiness edited by Sean Tejaratchi. Feral House, 2019. 9781627310857. 544pp.

Tejaratchi’s Liartown is one of the funniest, most thumbed through books on my shelf, so I’m primed to love whatever he publishes. This is a huge reference book without an index or table of contents in which images from 20th century ads, grouped together by theme (suicide, armageddon, accidents) and because of common graphic elements (handguns, grimaces, explosives). One set of images rolls into the next. The only context for each element is the other bits of advertising on the same and surrounding pages. It’s not quite a history of 20th century negativity or graphic design, and it’s kinda both. It is often hilarious and sometimes disturbing — every time I flip the book open I need to see what came before and after the page I landed on. It’s like playing a party game I don’t know the rules to, and like shopping for a new tattoo.

Here are a few bits from Tejaratchi’s introduction that explain the book:

“In thirty years of paging through old magazines and newspapers, clipping and saving reference material, I’ve found the unhappiest artwork is routinely the most striking.”

“…this book is limited to what was visually rendered for commercial purposes in the 20th century.”

The end of introduction also tells of two pieces of striking art he decided not to include, and it has a note on the sequencing.



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