This J.Crew Ad Looks a Lot Like My Book Cover

Slate's Culture Blog
June 14 2011 2:14 AM

This J.Crew Ad Looks a Lot Like My Book Cover

In 2009, before my memoir TheMercy Papers came out, my publishing house showed me ten veryquestionable book covers. Even my editor thought them cringeworthy, and sentthem to me with weary trepidation. One featured Adirondack chairs in softcolors, overlooking the endless sea. Another, a naked woman's back, herslightly damp curls suggesting an earlier lovemaking session. My memoir, afurious and raw account of my mother's death, was far from placid or erotic.Yes, one scene takes place looking out at an ocean. And the naked woman seemedto be standing next to some hospital sheets...which were sort of deathy. But I feared these coverswould sentence my book to a place on the remainders table.

Ihad the good fortune of pitching a fit the week that the wonderful designer RexBonomelli joined Scribner. He read the book, and an unexpected image jumped outat him: the popsicle.

Advertisement

Thepopsicle was one of the last foods my mother could eat. By the end of her life,and by the end of the book, she couldn't hold them. Her hands shook, so theywould fall to the floor and break. The three red popsicles, going from whole tobroken against a dreamy blue backdrop, signify the breaking down of childhoodas well as decline from illness and, ultimately, death.

/blogs/browbeat/2011/06/14/this_j_crew_ad_looks_a_lot_like_my_book_cover/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Instantlysuccessful, the cover piqued the interest of booksellers and blogs. It's thesort of book jacket people reach out to touch. Not only is it beautiful, itboth clashes with and magnifies what it's meant to suggest, the way any goodmetaphor should.

Itwas surprising, then, when a similar image popped up in Esquire 's female sex survey in 2010 . On a backdrop in a very similar shade of blue asmy book cover lay four popsicles in various states of wholeness. On Mercy Papers , it had been an image of emotional and physical diminishment; here, it was a graph showing howmuch women liked to give blowjobs.

/blogs/browbeat/2011/06/14/this_j_crew_ad_looks_a_lot_like_my_book_cover/jcr:content/body/slate_image0

Itook it as a kind of backward compliment that a magazine like Esquire might be alluding to my book. Atleast that would mean they were paying attention. Moms! You mean MILFs? Awesome, give 'em a"popsicle!"

I guess popsicles are kind ofphallic.

Now, a picture that looks strikingly like my book's jacket is serving as the campaign image for J.Crew's summer sale. True, they used only one popsicle, notthree, but it disappears in a series of animated clips. The color scheme andprecise hues cherry red, light blue backdrop with some shadow, white font areexactly the same. The disappearing red popsicle now lures you to buy not aheartbreaking book about my mother's untimely death, but tiny, light blue chinoshorts.

/blogs/browbeat/2011/06/14/this_j_crew_ad_looks_a_lot_like_my_book_cover/jcr:content/body/slate_image1

Oneof my writer friends suggested that J.Crew could put The Mercy Papers near the register instores perhaps with some cute polka-dot Kleenexes (to catch the tears!). Until that happens, J. Crew shoppers can find the book here .I happen to think that my fierce and excellent mother would make a wonderfulcompanion as you sunbathe on your sailboat in Nantucket, sipping gin, strawbucket bag by your side, overpriced flip-flops dangling from your feet.

Screengrab of oral sex chart from Esquire.com

Follow  Brow Beat on Twitter . For more culture coverage, like  Slate  Culture  on Facebook.  

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

U.S. Begins Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How in the World Did Turkey Just Get 46 Hostages Back From ISIS?

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.