The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Authors’ Cocktails



I didn’t see this weekend’s Guardian, but I assume Tom‘s cartoon is in reference to Olivia Laing’s article about 20th century female writers who drank, a follow-up to her excellent book The Trip to Echo Spring, which examines the link between creativity and alcohol through the lives F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver:

Female writers haven’t been immune to the lure of the bottle, nor to getting into the kinds of trouble – the fights and arrests, the humiliating escapades, the slow poisoning of friendships and familial relations – that have dogged their male colleagues. Jean Rhys was briefly in Holloway prison for assault; Elizabeth Bishop more than once drank eau de cologne, having exhausted the possibilities of the liquor cabinet. But are their reasons for drinking different? And how about society’s responses, particularly in the lubricated, tipsy 20th century; the golden age, if one can call it that, of alcohol and the writer?

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