With his strong opinions and volatile disposition — not to mention a notorious bite — Norman Mailer bears a temperamental resemblance to the badger. Both are feisty and unafraid to show their claws when the occasion, or sudden impulse, calls.
Joan Didion – Nightingale
Her dainty, bird-like build belies a powerful voice, but Joan Didion is as paradoxically discreet and commanding as a nightingale. They also share a capacity to delight audiences with their pitch-perfect notes — whether poetic or musical.
Ernest Hemingway – Gorilla
Bold, brilliant, and with a capacity for brutishness, Ernest Hemingway is the writing world’s animal kingdom equivalent of a gorilla. Like Mailer, he was prone to physical force when words failed, but his defining linguistic prowess also matches our close cousin’s eloquent yet succinct communicative abilities.
Edith Wharton – Peacock
Edith Wharton’s propensity for flamboyant turn-of-the-century fashion evokes the eye-catching spectacle of a peacock’s display. That said, Wharton wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing the same dress as anyone else in her social circle — an insistence on originality that her avian counterparts don’t share.
Haruki Murakami – Cheetah
The speed at which Haruki Murakami writes his best-selling novels seems to be an inhuman feat — especially for an author who receives as much critical acclaim as commercial success. But in addition to his steady supply of incisive postmodern fiction, Murakami is also an avid runner, who coordinates his writing routine with marathon training, and even wrote a book about his twin passions.
Tom Wolfe – Egret
Always the picture of elegance in his trademark all-white suits, Tom Wolfe has the regal poise of an egret. Hardly one for ostentation, Wolfe’s characteristic look instead exudes effortless refinery similar to that of an egret’s long-necked posture.
Salman Rushdie – Cheshire Cat
Salman Rushdie always looks like he’s enjoying a private joke. The again, if you lived in Salman Rushdie’s head, you probably would too. Maybe it’s just the perennially arched eyebrows and bemused appearance, but this genre-defying writer brings to mind the Cheshire Cat’s cryptic comic expression.
Susan Sontag – Skunk
With a shock of white hair amid otherwise jet black locks, Susan Sontag’s visage is strikingly reminiscent of a skunk. Although her seminal cultural criticism didn’t exactly cause a — ahem — stink, Sontag’s sharp wit and insightful analyses command attention with the same authority as the latter’s unmistakable odor.
John Updike – Elephant
With dramatic facial features that strike a resemblance to an elephant’s characteristically oversized nose, ears, and kindly eyes, John Updike has all the inviting appeal of this emotionally sensitive beast as well as its formidable intellect — and unmatched memory — to boot.