Thursday, April 07, 2005

author photo

Right now there is a huge poster outside the office door. The poster is advertising the reading. The photo on the poster is me with lips open (my mirror face, as a friend once said), hair straight, camera blocking half. It is a self-portrait. It is from my Nan Goldin days. It is more than vaguely ridiculous.

It is a self-portrait because I cannot seem to ask anyone to take the picture. Why, I ask, do I need a picture? I don’t have a full book. I don’t have a band. No one needs to know what I look like. Except it seems they do.

I remember a few years ago the lovely Kenyon Review pushed hard for an author photo for their website. Usually I ignore these things and they go away. But they sent a letter, saying something like: people are more likely to respond to a picture. Is this true? Do we all flip to the jacket photo before proceeding to the paragraph?

In Bee Season, she wore striped tights, and then, ever after, apparently, in all photo shoots, she was asked: Wear the tights. Where are the tights?

Note to self: do not wear tights.

In all my relationships, I am the photographer in the family. I take the pictures. I capture the moments. I have stacks and stacks of photos of you: you reading, you shirtless, you looking serious. But it seems you took nothing of me.

A few years ago, I hiked with writers to Robert Frost’s cabin in the woods. I stood admiring flowers in a field. Someone shouted at me to move out of the way. There was a girl posing on a stump further up the yard, and apparently she wanted her view unobstructed. This is going to be my book photo, she said.

That seems awfully like pushing your luck.