WHAT HE’S POISED TO DO

(Harper Perennial, 2010)

Often, I’ve been very involved in my covers, and more so when they’re paintings or photographs that I already know of, in another context, and am bringing into the book. For Superbad, I met with Mark Tansey and he allowed me to use a painting for the cover. For Superworse, I found an image online by Kim Weston, Edward Weston’s grandson, and got his permission.

 

When it came time for What He’s Poised To Do, I knew I needed a figurative image, probably a painting, that was mysterious and furtive and exciting and maybe a little shameful. I looked around at lots of images, and finally decided that I already had the answer—a painting by a woman I know named Alyssa Monks.

As it turns out, the narrative of the painting is even more similar to the plot of the title story, in which a man on a business trip reassesses his marriage, partly through an affair with a young woman who works at the hotel. She—Alyssa, the painter, not the young woman in the story—agreed to let me use her painting for the cover, and the designers at Harper did great things with it in terms of wrapping it around from front cover to back cover, cropping, finding ways to fit title and blurb, and so forth.

Ben Greenman, author

It’s been awhile since I painted “Bed,” but I remember at that time I was interested in creating something of a “false narrative” or the effect of creating a misunderstanding that something was happening when it wasn’t. I simply put two friends in “costume” and had them awkwardly move around a bedroom and watched as their awkwardness created a story.

I liked this kind of movable, unintentional narrative. It had many possibilities. I prefer it to a more didactic approach. I enjoy the eagerness with which people interpret the story in this painting, usually different each time.

I am honored the Ben asked to have the image as his cover for this book.

Alyssa Monks, artist

4 comments

  1. That painting reminds me to Edward Hopper, its maybe the feeling of loneliness, and the history that happen in the ” snapshot” what make me thing on he. By the other way its interesting to see the story of the artist, how se made that piece. Without a big explanation, just showing that she put to friends in costume and began to experiment.

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