2 August 2006 1 Comment

My book jacket photo


I knew I was going out on a limb. I was an author. This photo was for the jacket of my new book. Obviously my chin should’ve been resting on my hand, or perhaps my jaw would be framed by a thoughtful thumb and forefinger. But no, I decided I wasn’t going to be that kind of writer. Instead, I went with my friend David Blumenfeld, who’s more accustomed to photographing masked gunmen and unmaskable prime ministers, to an alley in an old Turkish-built section of Jerusalem. I wanted the photo to have a sense of mystery and yet to be suggestive of the old limestone of the Middle East. I also knew that I didn’t want to make it too obvious that I’m a thinker by putting the authorial hand on chin: if you buy a book, I’d say you assume the writer knows how to think; what you want from the photo is to see what kind of person he might be when he either isn’t thinking or isn’t thinking too hard. I strove to look knowing and tough and just a little amused. I channelled all the energy I could into my eyes, because someone had told me that if you didn’t you’d look like you were dead. Dave took a lot of photos. I wore a black cotton shirt I had bought in Rome. A Palestinian laborer walked past us carrying a bag of cement. He laughed at the impromptu photo shoot and, as he walked back past me, he gave me a big friendly pat on the chest and cracked a joke. His hand left a wide smear of white cement powder on my black shirt. He came back with another bag of cement and tried to wipe away the powder with his other hand. A helpful fellow, that one, but not careful enough to notice that both his hands were filthy. So what was I thinking when the photo was taken? “Get the shot before that bugger adds water to the cement.” That’s what I was thinking.

One Response to “My book jacket photo”

  1. kat 1 August 2010 at 5:06 am #

    LOL! He could have come back and made you into a statue. It’s a fine photo — rugged, relaxed and friendly — and thankfully without the hand-resting-on-chin pose.


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