Here's a link to my review in OUTLOOK of Amitava Kumar's HOME PRODUCTS -- I was feeling quite pleased with my review (it being such a rare event, after all, to find that I have something positive to say) but my sister G tells me that she didn't find the review enticing -- in the sense of, she didn't feel moved by it to run out and buy the book. That's a real shame! So I'm trying to make up for that boo-boo (in case other readers had a similar response) here, by saying it out loud and obvious: I REALLY LIKED THIS BOOK!! Maybe one of the things I liked best was that it was cool -- it didn't sound like it thought it was the best thing since -- oh, come on, let's just trot out the cliche -- sliced bread. It just got on with telling its story without fuss, tantra or fanfare of trumpets.
I think I also liked it coz I liked the author photograph. This is a terrible confession to make. But it's a cool photograph, just like the book. I have no idea whether the original item (i.e., the author) looks anything like his picture or whether he consciously set out to look a little bit like Paul Theroux or whether anything about the picture is authentic. Author photographs are supposed to enhance the saleability of a book, but most often, I find, I react so badly to the highly posed and perhaps PhotoShop-enhanced likenesses leering out at the reader, screaming READ ME! READ ME! that nowadays I automatically assign a bad-mark to such books. If the book happens to be worth reading then, okay, the black mark gets erased. But if it begins to stink, then every little dot and comma that annoys me gets added to the black mark like a rolling snowball of disappointment.
It will probably not come as much of a surprise to hear that I haven't published pix of myself alongside the author-info in my books -- caricatures, yes, but not photographs (at least I don't think so -- I've forgotten whether or not the MOUSE books have pix of me on the inside back-flap). I wouldn't buy a book that had a picture of me on the back cover! I look like a podgy middle-aged nerdette, someone completely incapable of producing anything readable.
So I don't know: do author-pix help or hinder the sale of a book? Dunno.
MEANWHILE, here's another link*, this time to a short piece I wrote in CITY LIMITS after visiting
Anjolie Menon's recent exhibition.
*(and it happens to feature an ancient photograph of me, at least 10 years out-of-date. I no longer look anything like it! I think it was Kurt Vonnegut (or someone pretending to be him) who made the point that we might as well enjoy the way we look now because we'll only get worse, not better. This is all very well, but I can STILL never get used to the way I look now, whatever it happens to be. It's as if I've never gotten over my adolescent antipathy towards myself)