Hang Wallpaper the Hemming-way and More!

The Household Tips of the Great Writers by Mark Crick

First Line: “I sipped on my whisky sour, ground out my cigarette on the chopping board and watched a bug trying to crawl out of the basin.”

Once again, the book cover enticed me. But what really sealed the deal for this library borrow was the title. Instructional fiction? With my favorite writers? Cooking and home repairs and yard work as dozens of mini-stories? Why didn’t I ever think of this! Crick is a genius.

The premise of the book is essentially a writing exercise. In each episode, Crick molds his writing style to mimic that of one of the great writers. He starts with the spirit of Raymond Chandler and pairs him with an entrée of lamb and dill sauce. The result is a guy throwing an evening meal together while waiting for some elusive blonde to show up. Two quick pages of first-person narration describing the process of how to cook lamb ending in classic Chandler style: “The blond hadn’t showed. She was smarter than I thought. I went outside to poison myself, with cigarettes and whisky.”

Naturally, I was drawn to the writers with whom I’m most familiar. Jane Austenian women had a discussion of suitable marriage matches while experimenting with eggs and tarragon in the kitchen. The John Steinbeck tone yielded the tale of a destitute young woman fixing risotto with dried mushrooms–humor to the literature lover!

“Painting a Room” completely mirrors the situations of Haruki Murakami’s protagonist in Norwegian Wood and the finale poem “How to Prune the Rose” reads as if it were freshly torn from a Pablo Neruda collection. The pastiches on the playwrights are equally impressive.

The layers to this compilation (the three parts were initially published independently) are profoundly entertaining. It’s study of literary styles–a joke book on the great writer’s ticks and trademarks. It’s a recipe collection and a reference guide for your next weekend project. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Bottom Line: For the perfect gift to a literature-lover, buy this book.