The only copy I'd seen for the last five or six years is the last one I purchased--my fourth copy overall, three of which were loaned out to friends and never recovered. Jesus' Son is just one of those books people "forget" they borrowed. (In fact, the first copy I owned was one I borrowed and never returned).
The cover of the copy I own has the title in a yellow handwritten font that looks like chalk on a chalkboard. "Stories by Denis Johnson" appears in thin, purple font below that. The bottom half of the cover appears to be a torn away scrap of paper with a handful of discernible words--a paragraph from the book's opening story "Car Crash While Hitchhiking"--in gray, typewriter-style font. Much as that story sets a tone for how we read all the stories after it, the words we're able to make out on the cover do the same: fed me pill[s] . . . veins feel scrap[ed] . . . new every raindr[op].
There's certainly a gritty look to the cover--the design, purple and yellow and black and torn and messy, has the same aesthetic that personifies The Joker in the The Dark Knight--but there is also, in those last three words at the bottom, softer than the words that come before them, a hint of (admittedly chemical) transcendence.
In short, I've always thought it was the perfect cover for the book.
And then there's the matter of format.. This edition of Jesus' Son is smaller than the standard paperback, which compresses each line and forces line breaks so that it reads just a little bit more like poetry--which of course fits since the stories in the book work so much like poems.
And then we have the cover Jesus' Son is being sold under these days:
This edition is a full-sized paperback, which eliminates the compression of lines, and while it still promises something off-kilter, which is accurate, it's lost some of the grit. It changes the book for me is what I'm saying, and I don't like it. This is a book I'll probably read twenty or thirty more times in my life; I hope I never have to own a copy that looks like this.
So here's what I'm interested to know: what book covers do you have powerful attachments to, and for what reasons?