Writer Drunk and On Fire

Brian McDonald has a great post up on The New York Times “Proof” blog, “Under the Literary Influence,” that tell the story of Hunter S. Thompson setting himself ablaze at Elaine’s while doing flaming shots of Bacardi. McDonald’s essay is generally about his attraction to drunken writers and how, “one book at a time”, he learned to appreciate a more sober crew. We’ve enjoyed a similar passion and still occasionally turn to it, though we haven’t had a drink in three (or is it four?) years. There’s much to think about in McDonald’s piece: how we identify with the writers we love and how such identity limits our reading; the tragedy of suicide–is it really such a cowardly act in the face of extreme physical or mental suffering?–and its triumphs; the relationship of alcohol to the discipline of writing. The comments are also worth reading. The suggestions of other writers in the drinking category will send me to the library. The discussion of having given up alcohol, in real life and in literature, involves equal parts fear and nostalgia (judge ye not…).  This blog has had its share of good and bad posts, a number of the latter by ex-drinkers, and the posturing is sometimes stiff (hee), self-conscious, even painful. Often the better posts come from those still drinking. Here’s to them from one who’s quit.–Cabbage Rabbit

Leave a Reply