Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Disorder? Author Photo Hysteria

Listen, I'm 41. I've been bemoaning the fact that I'm looking more like Marty Feldman (see photo to the left) every single day, complaining about a general loss of attractiveness. The bloom is off the rose. But one of the kids found an old photo album from about twelve years back. Turns out, I'd overestimated how much general attractiveness I once possessed. (Did I ever have a bloom to lose?) No mourning necessary. Still and all, an editor asks for a new author photo and I get a case of APH -- author photo hysteria.

Do I want to do a hipster shot like Gary Shteyngart and his bear on a leash? Of course I do. Where the hell did he get the bear? Or better, the shot of him bustling down the streets of some chilly city, looking very circa 1975? I'd take that. No doubt. I also want Myla Goldberg's striped stockings. I want a photo like a silent screen star a la
Joyce Carol Oates.

My husband tells me to go with this photographer -- also a novelist whose first book is coming out soon -- Laura Ciociola. And I know some of her work and dig it. Laura is funkier than I am, hipper, in general, and I'm hopeful. Still I get on the phone with her and state the following.

"I have moles on one side of my face and an age spot on the other. We'll go with the moles. I have an ET-like neck. It always looks torqued out and gives me the Nancy-Reagan-Big-Head-Little-Body effect. In addition to the neck, my family is prone to waddles. I have a budding waddle. We'll have to watch that. My eyes sometimes come out kind of scary in photos. Well, in real life too. My three-year-old has recently told me to close my eyes while telling bedtime stories because they 'FWEAK him OUT!' I'm going to try to keep the eyes mellow without looking sleepy. I often look sleepy in photos because the big eyes on my mother's side lead to excessive skin in the eyelids that eventually fold over the eyes and must be held up by wearing butterfly band-aides. I've lost some padding in my cheeks and therefore must smirk to look like I have cheekbones. In other words, I'm going to impinge -- deeply -- on your creative process here."

And I did and now wait... for a big-headed, age-spotted, neck-torqued, waddle-happy, one eye-freaky/one eye-sleepy, smirk fest -- with no striped stockings or bears to distract people?

It's possible I'm being pessimistic.