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Can You Guess These Authors Based on New York Times’ Descriptions?

Andrew Shaffer

Staff Writer

Andrew is the author of Literary Rogues and, under the pen name Fanny Merkin, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey: A Parody. Follow him on Twitter @andrewtshaffer.

While we at the Riot take some time off to rest and catch up on our reading, we’re re-running some of our favorite posts from the last several months. Enjoy our highlight reel, and we’ll be back with new stuff on Monday, January 6th.

This post originally ran June 20, 2013

franzen's glassesRecently, the New York Times published a profile of literary agent Luke Janklow, drawing attention to his “eyes the color of cornflowers.” A separate Times Style section story on Dagmara Dominczyk (author of the recently released The Lullaby of Polish Girls) made note of her “sculpted lips.”

Such details always jump out at me in literary profiles in a funny way—maybe because I’m still a little bitter that the New York Times failed to mention the height of my cheekbones or my deep, cerulean blue eyes when they profiled me in the Style section last year.

I combed the Times archives to find some of the more novel ways writers have been described. See if you can match the writers below with their descriptions in the Times:

  1. E. L. James                                  A. Wearing Ugg boots
  2. Dagmara Dominczyk                 B. Trim with a habitual slouch
  3. Jon-Jon Goulian                         C. Girlish with shoulder-length brown hair
  4. Jonathan Franzen                      D. Features chiseled into Mount Literature
  5. Rachel Kushner                          E. A sandy-haired Clark Kent
  6. George Saunders                       F. A little stern, as if he just stepped out of a tent at Antietam
  7. Malcolm Gladwell                       G. The relaxed intensity of a ballet dancer
  8. Suzanne Collins                          H. A robust, Mephistophelian goatee
  9. James Patterson                          I. Impossibly high cheekbones
  10. G. R. R. Martin                             J. The boyish handsomeness of Clark Kent
  11. Austin Ratner                               K. Like a rotund elf or Santa Claus
  • David Foster Wallace                 L. Slight, shoeless
  • Mark Leyner                                 M. A small woman with fine features and long, flowing hair
  • Michael Chabon                          N. Plump
  • Lorrie Moore                                 O. Body toned like an Olympic swimmer’s

    Check your answers.