Tired of Kardashians, Canteen magazine decided it would take sexy pictures of writers instead.
“Writers have lost their place as cultural heroes,” laments the magazine. “But why can’t they at least try to compete with pop-culture stars on the same terms? Let’s promote novelists as sexy and fabulous! Insist that the PEN Award require a turn on the catwalk! Hold the National Book Awards on a sliver of sand populated by buxom models in horn-rimmed shades; let the champagne pop for the cameras, as Oxford tweed gets wet on Temptation Island!”
So they took some photos. Stephen Elliott , author of The Adderall Diaries, does not lounge on a sliver of sand populated by buxom models. Instead, he lies in the lap of a tattooed blond in leather trousers, his forehead being gently stroked as if all that Adderall had left him with a migraine.
We wrote to the novelist Karan Mahajan, author of Family Planning, who lies next to a model under a white sheet in one fabulous photo, and in a metal washtub in another. Who was the girl? How was the photo shoot?
“Her name is Julia Morrison,” he wrote back. “She’s modeled for Boru [O'Brien O'Connell], the photographer, before. She and I had a wonderful literary conversation about Palo Alto, her grandmother’s eccentric hoarding habits (particularly as they pertain to fur coats), climate change, the perils of working at shifty downtown nightclubs — all while we lay (near-naked), wrapped in a thin sheet, coughing up the January air on Boru’s freezing industrial studio floor.”
We asked what he thought about this treating-writers-like-Victoria-Beckham project. He called it an “inspired idea.”
“Authors, like all other artists, ought to advance cults of personality that extend beyond their usual nebbishness and reclusiveness,” he wrote. “I also now happen to think that, if I could be photographed naked with a glamorous woman after every paragraph I write, I could produce a dozen masterpieces in half as many years.”