Sartre's Sink: The Great Writers' Complete Book of DIY by Mark Crick

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Sartre's Sink: The Great Writers' Complete Book of DIY by Mark Crick

Category: Humour
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sharon Hall
Reviewed by Sharon Hall
Summary: A collection of short stories in the style of some of the world's best known writers, all about the trials and tribulations of DIY. Humorous and entertaining, you don't need to know the writers' work well in order to enjoy this book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 98 Date: October 2008
Publisher: Granta
ISBN: 978-1847080479

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Sartre's Sink comprises fourteen short story parodies of some of the world's best known writers – the twist being that the stories are all about undertaking some mundane DIY task such as tiling a bathroom (Dostoevsky) or reglazing a window (Milan Kundera). So far it sounds a bit like some pretentious Oxbridge student twaddle. You can just imagine how the idea came up over an over-ripe Brie and an underrated bottle of 1963 Taylor's port. It also rather smacks of that Radio 4 programme which I detest with an absolute passion - I can't even stand writing its name, ugh - Quote Unquote, in which parodies do feature, read out by smug self-congratulatory writer darlings (you can tell I don't like it, can't you?). However, dear readers, this book is rather enjoyable and I speak as someone who is rather less versed in the writings of this famous lot than I care to admit.

The book starts with Hemingway hanging wallpaper, which makes me chortle just to think of it. It is accompanied, as are all of the stories, by a spoof painting by the author, this one in the style of Picasso. The sight of Hemingway, depicted with wonky eyes and lying semi-prostrate on a wallpapering table is genuinely funny. He certainly makes heavy weather of the plumb line, struggling as he does in the obligatory rope-soled sandals to make any headway whatsoever. It is a true heroic struggle.

Meanwhile, Emily Bronte writes of adventures in Wuthering Heights, in which her heroine tries to find a key to bleed a radiator, the coldness of the house not being helped by Heathcliff throwing open the windows to shout out for Kate Bush (I told you my grasp of the classics was, er, slight.) The painting to illustrate this story is an hilarious Van Gogh called Cold Radiator.

Kundera makes glazing a window into a political and a poetic act as Tomash feels the oiliness of the putty – its fleshlike consistency causes him to daydream about the faunlike Odile. Dostoevsky's Pokoroff is an impoverished student who tries hard with the grouting, but he clearly isn't a natural. With a lull in the affairs of state and in response to a bit of naggling, Julius Caesar attempts to put up a kitchen shelf, but manages to lose a Rawlplug in the wall. It's a lovely take-off of those Civis Romanus translations I used to labour over at school. Hunter S Thompson, a favourite of mine, is a surprising addition to this canon of writers. However, this is a great parody of his laconic style, complete with trademark intervention of encouraging substances.

I really liked this little book and I don't think you need to be that well versed in the writers' works in order to enjoy it. Most of us are familiar enough with the styles of the majority of the writers to appreciate the humour of the writing, and also the illustrations. Don't shout at me for saying it – but I do think this would make a nice little present for Christmas.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If you liked this, you might like to try The Brain-dead Megaphone by George Saunders.

Buy Sartre's Sink: The Great Writers' Complete Book of DIY by Mark Crick at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sartre's Sink: The Great Writers' Complete Book of DIY by Mark Crick at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Sartre's Sink: The Great Writers' Complete Book of DIY by Mark Crick at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sartre's Sink: The Great Writers' Complete Book of DIY by Mark Crick at Amazon.com.


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