Friday, July 17, 2009
One More Reflection in the Mirror
My first novel, Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, is about a photographer obsessed with reflections.
Harriet Rose is young, and tends to be more observant than perceptive. The novel has as a kind of centerpiece the Jan Van Eyck wedding portrait of the Arnolfinis, which was on the very beautiful cover of the hardcover edition (Crown, 1995) and not on the un-good cover of the Picador paperback (Henry Sene Yee is brilliant and this is one of his only flops, ever, in my eyes.) Since publication, I have read a little more about self portraiture (and everything else), and it seems likely that artists chosing to depict themselves really began to flourish in the early Renaissance because of the advent of better and cheaper mirrors, many of them convex, like the mirror in the center of the Arnolfini portrait (which is slyly repeated on the beautiful spine of the Objects jacket, with the two little Arnolfini clasped hands). This is the kind of fact Harriet Rose would possess, or perhaps it is something her friend Anne Gordon would tell her. And there would be mention in this conversation of the Jan Van Eyck self portrait of 1433, which is considered by art historians to be one of the first mirror-influenced self-portraits.