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The great writers’ guide to DIY – Features, Books – The Independent via RW.

In his book Kafka’s Soup, Mark Crick parodied literary giants by imagining how their their best-known characters would cook. Now, in Sartre’s Sink, he’s got them tackling home improvements…

Hanging wallpaper with Ernest Hemingway
Tools: Pasting brush, Wallpaper brush, Decorator’s scissors, Pasting table, Plumb line
Materials: Wallpaper, Wallpaper paste

The old man had worked for two days and two nights to strip away the old wallpaper and now on the morning of the third day the time to hang the new paper had come and he was tired. His palms were blistered from long hours scraping away the old paper and the blisters had begun to weep. The old man felt the pain in his hands as he looked again at the bare walls of the room. “Room, thou art big. But I will finish this trabajo that I have begun,” he said. “Or I will die trying.”

For too long DIY books have suffered the neglect of the literary Establishment. Finally, here in one volume, are the essential DIY tips of the world’s greatest writers. Dostoyevsky tells of a young man employed by an elderly lady to retile her bathroom; Caesar puts up a shelf for his rebellious tribe of adolescenti; the existentialist hero of the Sartre pastiche is both disgusted and nauseated to discover in a blocked sink the revelation of his own condition. We also learn how to repair a dripping tap under Conrad’s eyes, replace a window pane with a voyeuristic Milan Kundera, and hang wallpaper under the watchful eye of Mark Twain. Other handy hints include how to: replace a roof tile; remedy a squeaking floor board; remove a carpet stain and bleed a radiator, by writers, including Bronte, Shakespeare, Duras, Salinger and Paul Auster. As in “Kafka’s Soup”, each piece is illustrated by a famous artist, including da Vinci, Hokusai and Rembrandt.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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