Is good writing linked to heavy drinking?
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
In a Guardian review and discussion of The Trip to Echo Spring — an upcoming release by Olivia Liang — Blake Morgan examines the history of the writer-drinker and why the two vocations are so often linked. Not surprisingly, it’s a muddled story, and not a new one — Shakespeare and even Homer warn against the excesses of alcohol abuse. Morgan’s article at times devolves into a dizzying litany of alcoholic anecdotes, but in the final paragraph he most strongly suggests that productive booze-hounds might be the exception, not the rule, echoing (in my mind) Mary Karr’s well-circulated May interview with The Fix:
“I’ve been sober almost 25 years and anything anyone’s ever bought from me has been written when I was sober…[L]ook at somebody like George Saunders — I think he’s the best short story writer in English alive — that’s somebody who tries very hard to live a sane, alert life. You’re present when you’re not drinking a fifth of Jack Daniel’s every day. It’s probably better for your writing career, you know?”
–Jake Zucker is the Editorial Assistant for Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, and wears sunglasses on the net.