Norman Mailer, that ever-so-macho author (The Armies of the Night, The Naked and the Dead) is almost as well-known for his physical fights as for his writing. He famously head-butted Gore Vidal in the green room before their mutual appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971. Once on set, the altercation turned menacingly verbal, with Cavett getting in at least as many digs as Mailer:
Here’s a tip: keep some sheep leather and blue gauls handy…
Yesterday we brought you the recipes to two authors’ favorite meals, so today I give you the recipe to one authoress’ writing success: a good leather bound book and a batch of homemade ink. For those Austen enthusiasts feeling particularly crafty, here is the exact recipe for the ink Jane Austen used, provided by her sister-in-law:
Take 4 ozs of blue gauls [gallic acid, made from oak apples], 2 ozs of green copperas [iron sulphate], 1 1/2 ozs of gum arabic. Break the gauls. The gum and copperas must be beaten in a mortar and put into a pint of strong stale beer; with a pint of small beer. Put in a little refin’d sugar. It must stand in the chimney corner fourteen days and be shaken two or three times a day.
This iron gall ink would then be applied to the page with an old-fashioned quill. But on the quality of the pages themselves, Austen was quite particular. One of her favorites was “a quarto stationer’s notebook… bound with quarter tanned sheep over boards sided with marbled paper. The edges of the leaves [were] plain cut and sprinkled red.”
Better find yourself some quarter tanned sheep. No self-respecting Austenite would be caught dead without a sheep leather notebook!
In between drinking (Hemingway) and hiding (Pynchon), these two iconic writers were known to procrastinate in the way that many of us who write do: by chowing down. While stuffing our faces may partially delay the pain of composing, it’s not all duck-and-cover. Writing often requires mulling. As Umberto Eco notes, “Writing doesn’t mean necessarily putting words on a sheet of paper. You can write a chapter while walking or eating.”
A new discovery for me, by way of the Paris Review, is a site called Paper and Salt, a blog devoted to the love of food and literature. (Maybe I’ll start another called Windex and Waffles, which, granted, does not have quite the appeal of the former but I do tend to clean everything, and then EAT everything, when I have Major Writing to accomplish.)
Anyway, it’s pretty entertaining to hear about Pynchon and his love of Beer-Braised Chicken Tacos. Apparently, Pynchon could often be found
“wearing an old red hunting-jacket and sunglasses, doting on Mexican food at a taco stand.” Throughout the late 60s and 70s, Pynchon became a regular at El Tarasco in Manhattan Beach (It’s still open today, if you want to follow in his culinary footsteps). Neighbors would frequently spot him chowing down—the notorious hermit, lured into public by a burrito.”
Hemingway had his favorites, too. Among them was the humble hamburger, pan-fried, not grilled. Among his papers was found these explicit instructions for cooking Papa a proper burger:
Yes, he who snubbed Oprah and her “schmaltzy” book club, he who lacked the capacity to laugh at the ransom of a pair of glasses kidnapped from under his nose (quite literally), has climbed back onto his high horse again. The author of The Corrections and Freedom now declares in a new Guardian essay his disappointment in authors who turn to Twitter, lovingly casting himself as the reincarnation of Austrian satirist Karl Kraus, aka “The Great Hater.”
Not that you would know who that is, being a techno-communicating cretin and all. I mean, #karlkrausthegreathater takes up a big chunk of 140 characters.
I would explain more of Franzen’s essay for you, but like his other work, I didn’t get through it. So, I’ll just leave you with a link and some idiot friendly bullet points:
If you’re anything like the average employee at eNotes headquarters, you’re probably still drooling over the forthcoming generation of Apple iPhones. So allow me to ease you out of your reverie with a fun retrospect of how our bright future was predicted near perfectly almost 50 years ago.
Back in 1964, the Jetsons were on television, the lava lamp had just been invented, and the Moon was as yet uncharted territory. Isaac Asimov was also a popular science fiction writer of the time, though it was still six years before he would write his most famous short story “I, Robot.” Instead, he wrote an essay for the New York Times in which he imagined a trip to the World’s Fair of 2014, five decades into the future. On the brink of that very event and in the middle of a whirlwind of technological advancement, let’s take a look at five of the astounding predictions Asimov made for the 21st century:
The brave new world would apparently be designed without windows in mind.
One thought that occurs to me is that men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better. By 2014, electroluminescent panels will be in common use. Ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button.
Windows need be no more than an archaic touch, and even when present will be polarized to block out the harsh sunlight. The degree of opacity of the glass may even be made to alter automatically in accordance with the intensity of the light falling upon it.
Sorry Asimov, but for the most part we still look to good old window dressings to block out the sunlight. We do, however, have polarized transition lenses in our eyewear. Though I believe science is still trying to work out a way that won’t leave one with permanently halfway-tinted glasses in your averagely lit room…
There is an underground house at the fair which is a sign of the future. if its windows are not polarized, they can nevertheless alter the “scenery” by changes in lighting. Suburban houses underground, with easily controlled temperature, free from the vicissitudes of weather, with air cleaned and light controlled, should be fairly common.
Once again we’ve wasted one of Asimov’s completely practical ideas by employing it for needlessly decadent purposes, like having a casino in Vegas that’s lit to make you feel like you’re walking the streets of Paris… but hey, it’s something.
Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs. Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare “automeals,” heating water and converting it to coffee; toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs, grilling bacon, and so on. Breakfasts will be “ordered” the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning. Complete lunches and dinners, with the food semiprepared, will be stored in the freezer until ready for processing.