Friday, August 28, 2009

Life After Booze

Much ink has been spilled on the question of why so many writers are alcoholics. Of America’s seven Nobel laureates, five were lushes—to whom we can add an equally drunk-and-disorderly line of Brits: Dylan Thomas, Malcolm Lowry, Brendan Behan, Patrick Hamilton, Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, all doing the conga to (in most cases) an early grave. According to Donald Goodwin in his book “Alcohol and the Writer”: Writing involves fantasy; alcohol promotes fantasy. Writing requires self-confidence; alcohol bolsters confidence. Writing is lonely work; alcohol assuages loneliness. Writing demands intense concentration; alcohol relaxes.
But what happens when a writer stops drinking? asks Tom Shone in Intelligent Life Magazine. Does the writing become pedestrian, lose its vigour? He looks at the careers of some of the greatest American authors - F Scott Fitzgerald, John Cheever, Hemingway. Raymond Carver stands out as the writer who eventually gave up the bottle after a long struggle and realised a new creative vitality :
For a year he wrote nothing (“I can’t convince myself it’s worth doing”), just played bingo and got fat on doughnuts, but then he remarried, and he went on to write some of his best work—he was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for his story collection, “Cathedral”, illuminating the downtrodden blue-collar lives he had written about before with unexpected moments of revelation and connection.

4 comments:

Adlin Omar said...

coffee does it for me. stimulates everytime. but sometime a writer needs whatever works. ;o)

Greenbottle said...

reminds me of charles bukowski

Anonymous said...

i like the idea that every artist or writer is an addict in one way or another (coffee, alcohol, drugs, love, internet, brad pitt, etc.), that the history of culture is the history of addictions.

"Who will ever relate the whole history of narcotica? It is almost the history of 'culture', of our so-called high culture" (Nietzsche)

- burhan

Jessie U said...

its always sweet black Nescafe for me....
to write well one has to feel as if one is' afloat' above all reasons, rational, logic..one has to make way for feelings,aesthetic expressions to flow free..unrestrained by the the idea of what seems real and practical and acceptable...