10) Stupid Children, by Lenore Zion (Emergency Press)

Grayscale beneath a title in nuclear-waste orange. Holding a laundry line taught, the underwear-clad cover girl gives me the heebie-jeebies.

9) Whatever Don’t Drown Will Always Rise, by Justin Lawrence Daugherty (Passenger Side Books)

A faceless, toothy monster floats on the surface of choppy waters beneath a bleak watercolor sky. The speech-bubble title gives it a comic-book feel.

8) An Elegy for Mathematics, by Anne Valente (Origami Zoo Press)

At once scientific and artistic. A beautifully subtle color scheme surrounds an avian skeletal diagram. There should be more covers with skeletal diagrams.

7) Bleeding Edge, by Thomas Pynchon (Penguin)

A towering aisle of servers that looks eerily like a city block of skyscrapers with lit windows. Dark and reeking with Pynchon’s psychological complexity.

6) The Virgins, by Pamela Erens (Tin House Books)

Quietly seductive. Framed in a solid, natural green, you can’t help but look, blush.

5) But Our Princess is in Another Castle, by BJ Best (Rose Metal Press)

Reminiscent of the eight-bit world that Best’s prose poems inhabit. Mr. Toothpick legs has a long road ahead of him.

4) The Darksome Burn, by Nick Ripatrazone (Queens Ferry Press)

A cool inversion of light and dark by snowcapping the mountain in black. Looks a bit like a sneaky Rorschach test.

3) In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, by Matt Bell (Soho Press)

An intimidating bear stamped in black and staring straight into the reader’s trembling soul. The tentacles act as a tip of the iceberg, indicating a larger beast offstage. The horizontal split in color reinforces the geographic references in the title.

2) Fondly, by Colin Winette (Atticus Books)

A gruesome explosion of organs and flesh and whatnot that operates as a smart counterweight to the soft title. Absurd and disgusting and repulsive and I love it.

1) Troublers, by Rob Walsh (Caketrain Press)

Is there anything more foreboding than a ship on stormy waters? The pitch black sea is a great contrast to the abstract red and blue geometric shapes. Jagged pieces of driftwood suggest another ship already destroyed. It’s sharp, bold, and sings of impending disaster.

Thomas Michael Duncan’s 
Top Ten Book Covers of the Year.
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