If you’re one of the millions who’ve already been through the joys and sorrows of the “aural literature” that is the S-Town (aka ‘Shit Town’) podcast, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, not to worry: there are no spoilers here.
There’s been much discourse already over the title track A Rose for Emily: pairing a song that sounds like a British Beach Boys with the rest of the soundtrack which sounds more fitting for a story set in Alabama is a seemingly odd accompaniment. Personally, I don’t mind it as a sign-off to each episode: I think it’s catchy and compelling, much like the hypnotic southern voice of John B. McLemore himself.
But everyone, let’s just take a moment to enjoy the artwork by Valero Doval. It is stunning: a truly original, complex and beautiful series of watercolours, and much like the horologist himself, leaves you instantly intrigued and perplexed.
These illustrations perfectly encapsulate the literal: the rose garden, the clocks, the maze, but also transport your imagination to some of the other references throughout: John’s family of outlaws, “sleeping sweetly” by the rose garden, the persistence of time and memory, and of course, the mysterious mechanics of a beautiful – and cynical – mind.
The S-Town podcast received record-breaking downloads (10 million times in four days), and in my opinion, stands alone from Serial, the sister production from This American Life. I’ve never heard anything quite like it, and I should imagine I never will again.