On Photographs

Last week I read Karen Russell’s St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, which is really and truly and honestly special. Some of us fiction candidates got together to talk a bit about the collection; afterward, the discussion devolved somewhat to the subject of author-photographs.

On the back of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, Karen Russell looks fifteen, or younger.

From what I know, she wasn’t much older than fifteen when she finished the book (23!?). Still, my sense is the publisher used that photograph purposefully. I think they’re milking the youth here—excuse that phrase, please. I mentioned in a post last month how marketable youth seems. I think author-photographs play into that. I mean, that picture looks off. I know it’s not just me.

Anyway, today I came across this link against promotional author-photographs. Some of these are just dynamite. Check out Proust.

I’m thinking. If I ever get a book, I’ll probably decide to use a photograph. But I hope they’ll see me—hunched over my laptop, drinking Gatorade, wearing sweatpants with a tear down the back. That’s how I look most of the time.

Look at me, a writer, hidden in my room.

You know, the semester is basically over. All the writers here are leaving, usually for warmer places. It was -34 with wind-chill this morning when I left the house.

I’ll be inside these coming weeks. Inside, in sweatpants.

Have a good holiday break, people.


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