"What recommends this compendium of mini-biographies is its revelation of the infinite variety, unpredictable zaniness and inimitability of artists' routines."
— The Wall Street Journal
"An encouraging read for creative types, and a delightful peek into that world for the rest of us."
— NPR's Morning Edition
"Fascinating ... Just about anyone who has put his or her mark on modern art and thought makes an appearance here."
— The Chicago Tribune
"I just can't recommend this book enough."
— Lena Dunham
Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”
Kafka is one of 161 inspired, and inspiring, minds — among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians — whose daily rituals are recorded in these pages. Like Kafka, they worked in the face of countless obstacles (some of them self-inflicted) and developed a fascinating range of “subtle maneuvers” to get their work done each day, from waking early to staying up late, drinking vast quantities of coffee to taking long daily walks and precisely timed naps. Thomas Wolfe wrote standing in the kitchen, using the top of the refrigerator as his desk, dreamily fondling his “male configurations.” Jean-Paul Sartre chewed on Corydrane tablets (a mix of amphetamine and aspirin), ingesting ten times the recommended dose each day. Descartes liked to linger in bed, his mind wandering in sleep “through woods, gardens and enchanted palaces” where he experienced “every pleasure imaginable.”
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