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Flatbush Flashback

Some Days I Think About Word Counts

Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea: 24,191 words

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's: 26,433 words

Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: 27,622 words

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice: 28,770 words

Joan Didion, Play it as it Lays: 32,482 words

Albert Camus, The Stranger: 36,451 words (Translated from French to English by Stuart Gilbert)

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness: 37,746 words

Saul Bellow, Seize the Day: 38,816 words

Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John: 41,909 words

Robert Rosen, Bobby in Naziland: 44,527 words

Lorrie Moore, Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?: 45,361 words

Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea: 45,499 words

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby: 47,104 words

Paula Fox, Desperate Characters: 47,739 words Read More 
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Word and Image 3

This being 12/12/12 (12 + 12 + 12 = 36 = 9) and only 9 days before the end of the world (according to the Mayan Long Count calendar), one would think that an amateur numerologist such as myself would devote today's blog to numerology. But no, I'll save that for December 21, and instead return to the subject of word and image--because yesterday I did another photo shoot with Michael Paul, who last took my picture in October, in the East Village.

Because a writer's image can be more important that his words, posing for photographs is something I take seriously. The ideal, as I've said before, is the Harold Halma photo of Truman Capote that appeared on the dust jacket of Other Voices, Other Rooms--an image that made the young author a star and that people talked about more than Capote's prose.

Well, I don’t think I’ve yet achieved that ideal, and perhaps I’ll need to attend an elite modeling academy before I do, but yesterday’s session by the Hudson River did produce a number of promising images, including the one above. Taken at 4 P.M., on the walkway to the Holland Tunnel ventilation tower, with Jersey City in the background, this scenic bit of real estate, about ten bocks from where I live, was completely flooded during Hurricane Sandy.

What I like about the picture is the perspective, the dramatic sky, the curve of the walkway, and my thoughtful expression as I look south, towards the so-called “Freedom Tower” and the downtown Manhattan skyline. It’s a natural shot, in my natural environment, looking very much as I would on any other day.

Ah, but will it sell books? Read More 
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Word and Image 1

The idea that a writer's image is as important, if not more important, than his words is as old as the writing biz itself. One of the most famous examples of this is the picture that Harold Halma took of Truman Capote for the dust jacket of his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms. People talked about this sultry shot of the 24-year-old Capote reclining on a sofa more than they talked about his prose. It's the image that made the author a star.

I’ve always tried to portray myself as somewhat less scruffy than I am in real life. In general, if I’m posing for publicity shots, I wear a nice sport jacket, a good pair of jeans, and shoes rather than sneakers. And I’ve gotten some good results with this costume, notably the shot taken by Marcia Resnick that’s on the back cover of Beaver Street.

This week, Michael Paul, a photographer I’d recently met, offered to shoot me in Tompkins Square Park and around the East Village. So, I decided to try something different—a more natural semi-grunge look. I wore a jean jacket, a faded pair of blue jeans, an old pair of sneakers, and T-shirt. You can see one result above. I don’t know if it’s going to help me sell more books, but it is an accurate representation of how I’d look if you ran into me on the street. I’ll post another shot tomorrow. Read More 
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