I have a bad habit. Okay, I have several, but here’s the one I’m most proud of: I think I can tell how somebody writes by looking at their author photo. And basically that’s how I decide which of the Important Books to skip, because really, who has time to read them all? Before you have a freakout about how mean I am, I swear it’s not a beauty contest. It’s more subtle than that. There are some bushy browed dogs out there who still do it for me, who really seem to inhabit their faces the way the voice inhabits the page. I’m looking at you Philip Roth. Not a beauty, but a Dick That Gets the Job Done. Ditto Bukowski, says my friend Sean. Maybe Fran Lebovitz isn’t a conventional beauty, but I like the vibe she gives off in a photo.
Jonathan Franzen, not so much. I mean, way to man up for the cover of Time, homie. I know he’s America’s Author, but all I see is America’s milquetoast. I suppose he’s conventionally handsome and the article mentions his perfectly tossled hair, but I look at his face and I think of the word limpid. I flash back to how he deprived Oprah’s masses of his gifts on the grounds that he didn’t want to, or something. I see pictures of Jonathan Franzen and I think of all the emo narcies who ever tried to teach me to crochet. Five bucks says he sits down to pee.
This is why I haven’t finished The Corrections and why I’m making it my Life’s Goal to make it through the new novel. I have a feeling it’s a much more rigorous Forrest Gump. Even as I write this I feel that guilty tug of you guys in my ear: You don’t even know what you’re talking about. All the reviews are raves. Read it before you judge. But I’m telling you I’ve already made up my mind.
Botox. I’m not against it. There is a way to use injectables in moderation, so that you still look like you’re made of flesh. But Mary Karr: frozen in bitchface. Can’t read her stuff, don’t like her attitude. I imagine if she were a visual artist, she’d paint in menstrual blood. Her perma-scowl makes me want to pick a fight about the origins of her stupid faith.
For Botox done well, see John Grisham, Jackie Collins and Justin Bieber.
Who can’t you help but loathe on sight?
* Erin Hosier, whose blog style is “on the rag,” is not the same person as Betsy Lerner, whose blog style is “perimenopausal” and on vacation.