Jonathan Franzen is going to be on the cover of TIME. I had it on good authority that I was the other August author under consideration, but so it goes.
Now, many years ago, Nora Ephron — man, how many times have I cited her on this blog — had a killing parody of how to write a magazine cover story. Interestingly, the rules as she observed them do not seem to have changed much. This profile (an abridged version is online) begins with a comically strained scene involving 41 sea otters.
“One of the humans admiring them is Jonathan Franzen. Franzen is a member of another perennially threatened species, the American literary novelist. But he’s not as cool about it as the otters. He’s uneasy. He’s a physically solid guy, 6 ft. 2 in., with significant shoulders, but his posture is not so much hunched as flinched. At 50 (he turns 51 on Aug. 17), Franzen is pleasantly boyish-looking, with permanently tousled hair. But his hair is now heavily salted, and there are crow’s-feet behind his thick-framed nerd glasses.”
So here’s the game: Cut and paste the above paragraph into the comment section and rewrite to describe yourself. Here’s my version. (Hey, I can’t wait forever to be on the cover of TIME.)
One of the humans admiring them is LAURA LIPPMAN. LIPPMAN is a member of another perennially threatened species, THE AMERICAN CRIME NOVELIST WHOSE ENTIRE BACKLIST IS IN PRINT, BUT HAS NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH DIGITAL BOOKS. But she’s not as OBLIVIOUS about it as the otters. She’s HUNGRY. She’s a PHYSICALLY IMPRESSIVE SPECIMEN, 5 ft 9 in., with significant TRICEPS, but her posture is not so much hunched as THE CONSEQUENCE OF SITTING TOO MUCH IN FRONT OF A LAPTOP. At 51 (BUT MADONNA TURNS 52 IN DECEMBER, SO BACK UP OFF HER), LIPPMAN is absurdly toothy-looking, with permanently tousled hair BECAUSE SHE HAS NEVER LEARNED HOW TO BLOW-DRY HER HAIR PROPERLY. But hey eyebrows are now heavily salted if she FORGETS TO USE HER LAURA MERCIER TINT and there are crow’s-feet at the CORNERS OF HER CORNFLOWER BLUE EYES, WHICH MEANS SHE IS A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN AND THEREFORE INVISIBLE TO ALMOST EVERYONE ON THE PLANET. EVEN THE OTTERS CAN’T SEE HER.