Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Writer's Desk

Yesterday I mentioned a book, The Writer's Desk, by photographer Jill Krementz. This is a fascinating look at writers photographed at their desks: couches, chairs, counters, laps, and kitchen tables. They write with typewriter, computer, pencil, and pen.

The photos are black and white. Here we see French mystery writer George Simonen standing over his desk with his pipes lined up ready to be filled with fragrant tobacco. In another shot we meet E.B. White sitting on a built-in wooden bench at his typewriter which rests on an empty wooden table with only an ashtray for company. A keg rests on the floor to catch the trash. All this in a shed built featuring a big open window facing the water. It is where he went to write to escape the hoopla of the household.

A few of the writers are barefoot. Some are kept company by pet cats or dogs. Some face windows while others prefer to focus on a blank wall. Some rooms are starkly bare and others are crowded with books and papers and photos.

I find it engaging to see where writers write. These photos - there are some 55 of them - are accompanied by comments of the individual writers about their creative process or work habits. The book, which was published in 1996, includes photos of writers who have long since died. It is compelling to see the writers themselves in their creative and created environments.

Unfortunately, the book is out-of-print but used copies are available from Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.

Krementz, by the way, is the widow of Kurt Vonnegut. This was not just a one off project for her. As of this book she had photographed over 1500 writers.


  1. I love getting little peeks into the lives of writers and this sounds like a fascinating "look see" that is on my ever-expanding list of books. I'm hoping it is in our library system.

    1. Penny,
      I am still trying to sort out how all this blogging business works so I am slow in responding to your comment.

      I too love seeing the writer in his or her creative environment. I hope you can find a copy of this book. If your library doesn't have it, I know it is available on the Internet.

      Let me know how you like it.