Ryan Chapman hosts Nerd Jeopardy, the online literary game show. Tonight Ryan is joined by Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things, and Katie Whittemore, translator of Sara Mesa’s Four by Four. This week’s indie bookstore spotlight is on Magers & Quinn.
Sign up for next week, May 20, with guests Tracy O’Neill and Matt Gallagher.
Category 1: MURDER THEY WROTE
100: This protagonist, nominally the good guy, has ripped out throats, thrown guys from helicopters, and killed an estimated 70 people across Lee Child’s books.
200: Korede’s plans are always being interrupted by her bloodthirsty sibling in Oyinkan Braithwaite’s novel.
[My Sister the Serial Killer]
300: In this bestselling Canadian’s cozy mysteries you’ll find Chief Inspector Armand Gamache getting to the bottom of things in rural Quebec.
400: Detective C. Auguste Dupin appears in a few of his stories, including “The Purloined Letter.”
[Edgar Allan Poe]
500: Considered Shakespeare’s bloodiest play in which the eponymous Roman general is assailed on all sides. Also a great New Jersey punk band.
Category 2: DIRECTIONS NEEDED
100: Escaping Thoreau’s pond? Find warmer climates in Lauren Groff’s story collection; if you hit Henry Miller’s latitude you’ve gone too far.
[Walden, Florida, Tropic of Cancer]
200: If you’re travel plans include this John Green book—recently a TV show, too—go north of Edan Lepucki’s first novel, and then invoke Mohsin Hamid’s latest.
[Looking for Alaska, California, Exit West]
300: DAILY DOUBLE
Want to flee Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abode? Take Colson Whitehead’s secret route and then hop into H.G. Wells’s device.
[Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Underground Railroad, The Time Machine]
400: If you’re stuck on Alex Garland’s debut, and want a better view of Upton Sinclair’s work—where you’ll be welcomed by Axl Rose—then hop in one of Barry Hannah’s dirigibles.
[The Beach, The Jungle, Airships]
500: For a flight of fantasy, head to Steinbeck’s doorstopper, take Gass’s doorstopper, and you’ll end up in DeLillo’s doorstopper.
[East of Eden, The Tunnel, Underworld]
Category 3: CALL ME “MAY”BE
100: She wrote her way out of poverty in part by fictionalizing her three sisters’ lives in Concord, MA
[Louisa May Alcott]
200: This mediocre Robin Williams movie takes its title from a line in Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy
[“What dreams may come?”]
300: A. M. Homes took the Baileys Women’s Prize for this novel, developed from a short story first published in Granta.
[May We Be Forgiven]
400: Francis Mayes’s bestselling memoir about life in central Italy found new audiences as a 2003 film with Diane Lane.
[Under the Tuscan Sun]
500: While best known for her poetry, she also directed the 1996 feature film “Down in the Delta” starring Wesley Snipes.
Category 4: SHORT STORIES
100: Melville returned from his sea tales with this work, subtitled “A Story of Wall Street.”
[Bartleby the Scrivener]
200: Amy Hempel says this story from 1983, one of the most anthologized of all time, was the first one she ever wrote.
[“In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried”]
300: This translator of Proust and Flaubert won a MacArthur grant for her trademark flash fictions, some just a paragraph long.
400: This Georgia-based writer oversaw a menagerie of peacocks, ducks, and turkeys; many of the animals found their way into her short fiction.
500: Saul Bellow didn’t just write, he also translated: we have him to thank for bringing us this Yiddish writer’s “Gimpel the Fool.”
Category 5: BARTENDER IS THE NIGHT
100: Hemingway chastised this friend for admitting to an alcoholic decline in Esquire.
[F. Scott Fitzgerald]
200: He confessed to not remembering “Cujo,” he was so blotto during its composition.
300: CLUE CREW WITH KRISTEN ARNETT
This fan of the three-martini lunch also threw the Black & White Ball, considered one of the best parties of all time.
400: His first book Ablutions follows bartenders and barflies in a Hollywood dive.
500: e. e. cummings said the beer at this long-running East Village institution “never lets you grow old.”
[McSorley’s Ale House]
Category 1: TRUST THE PROCESS
200: On deadline for completing “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” he locked his clothes in a closet to remove the temptation of leaving the house.
400: The prolific author behind “Blue Angel” and “Mister Monkey” recommends facing a blank wall when writing.
600: This “Steve Jobs” screenwriter once broke his nose head-butting a mirror “in character.”
800: It’s a mystery how it worked, but she liked plotting her books while eating apples in the bathtub.
1000: Writer’s block? Try writing while your wife drives you around Paris in a Model T, running errands. It worked for this polymath.
Category 2: THE FOURTH ESTATE
200: The New York Times received this colorful nickname due to its high ratio of copy to graphics.
[The Grey Lady]
400: CLUE CREW WITH KATIE WHITTEMORE
Though Mark Twain wrote for the Sacramento Union, it was this newspaper that first employed him upon his move out west in 1864.
[San Francisco Chronicle]
600: The first school of journalism in the U.S. is credited to this university, headquartered in the city of Columbia.
[U. of Missouri]
800: David Graham Phillips’ investigative reporting created the term “muckraking,” popularized by this U.S. president.
1000: Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” started as an assignment for this magazine.
Category 3: AUTHORS’ ADAGES
200: Don’t steal from one apostle to fend off debts from another, even if it’s recommended by the author of The New York Trilogy.
[Robbing Peter to Pay Paul Auster]
400: DAILY DOUBLE
Cheer up a recently dumped BFF with an optimistic reference to oceanic plenitude. And a copy of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.”
[There Are Plenty of Fish in the C.S. Lewis]
600: Using a single pebble to conquer more than one avian adversary? Enlist the “Dog Soldiers” author.[Kill Two Birds with One Robert Stone]
800: The author of “Native Speaker” and “On Such a Full Sea” knows if you want people to follow you, show them how it’s done.
[Chang-Rae Lead by Example]
1000: As readers of “The Fingersmith” will tell you, calm surfaces mask great depths.
[Still Sarah Waters Run Deep]
Category 4: PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES
200: This prolific author’s “The Haunted Car” might give you goosebumps, and think twice about getting your driver’s license.
[R. L. Stine]
400: David McCullough admitted that before he wrote a 2016 biography of these siblings he knew only they were bicycle mechanics from Ohio.
[The Wright Brothers]
600: Tom Wolfe admitted this NASA book started with the goal of besting Norman Mailer’s “Of a Fire on the Moon.”
[The Right Stuff]
800: Your first encounter with the power of positive thinking may have come from Wilbert and Christopher Awdry, a father-son pair who invented this railway denizen.
[Thomas the Tank Engine]
1000: In his “Vatican Cellars,” Lafcadio embraces the absurd and rejects conventional morality by pushing a fellow passenger from a moving train.
Category 5: TEN-LETTER WORDS
200: Lethem’s “Brooklyn” carries this adjective, signaling Lionel Essrog’s cold, hardscrabble existence.
400: Fiction writers of third-person narration must choose between a limited perspective or this “all-seeing” alternative.
600: You might be called this if you’re prone to writing aesthetically pleasing works (or if you follow Emma Roberts’s book recs).
800: Dylan Thomas was fond of this type of poem, comprised of nineteen lines.
1000: Medea, Romulus, and Cain are all guilty of committing this crime, making subsequent family reunions quite awkward.
CLUE: His 1920 book “The Sacred Wood” contains takes on Dante, Shakespeare, and the line “Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal.”