Sunday, August 13, 2006

I Prefer Mine...Grizzled

In today's NYT Book review, there's a front page review of a new book by Marisha Pessl (who, the reviewer, Liesl Schillinger, notes, is "only 27,...and a distractingly pretty actress, playwright and Barnard College graduate." The novel in question is "Special Topics in Calamity Physics". Ms. Schillinger posits that critics, when, "...asked if the book would have been snapped up so quickly if Pessl hadn’t had such a "drool-worthy author photo"" are forced to pause and consider. She goes on to offer, "But don’t hate her because she’s beautiful: her talent and originality would draw wolf whistles if she were an 86-year-old hunchbacked troll. Her exhilarating synthesis of the classic and the modern, frivolity and fate — "Pnin" meets "The O.C." — is a poetic act of will. Never mind jealous detractors: virtuosity is its own reward. And this skylarking book will leave readers salivating for more."

Call me suspicious. No, make that curmudegeony.
Life is hard.
Comedy is harder.
Writing is the hardest.
Being a novelist sucks the blood from your veins, wipes the smile from your lips, empties the marrow from your bones. You are left dry, siphoned, and, yes, grizzled. If your novel's backpage has a photo that has obviously not been through Adobe Illustrator or Pagemaker, then the worth of the words just can't be high. Right?
That's why I like my authors grizzled. Not old. Grizzled. Life has chewed on them a bit and let them go back to their hovels where they've penned the experience. A toothy leggy young lass posing as an author of a tremendous new work? Please, let the scientists come in and do their due diligence of acid/alkaline testing. Maybe in a decade or so when Ms. Pessl has at least one or two facial lines, I'll come to read her. For now, Mr. Kundera, Mr. Russo, and Mr. Hornby will do. Sorry, but that's just the curmudgeon's way.

Oh, and here's a peak at the author. Careful. Keep a handkerchief at hand to sop up the sweating brow. And, yes, she does act and she is a playwriter.

Now, wasn't Jonathan Safran Foer about 27 when his "Everything is Illuminated" came out? Yes, I guess it's possible to be on the taut side of Grizzle and pull it off.

I finally clicked onto your author's photo link. I must say that all those girls look alarmingly like they were pulled directly from the generic "Join now to connect to singles!" banners that you find on MSN and other server pages. I get to wondering if these ladies are writing books, or personal ads?
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