Thursday July 30th, 2009

Writing on the Wagon

In a piece for Intelligent Life, Tom Shone argues that “sobering up is one of the more devastating acts of literary criticism an author can face.” Commenters spend most of their time taking Shone to task for dissing Richard Yates, ignoring drunk female writers and getting someone’s nationality wrong. But the essay is a breezy, dishy read:

n America William Faulkner and Scott Fitzgerald were the Paris and Britney of their day, caught in the funhouse mirror of fame, their careers a vivid tabloid mash-up of hospitalisations and electroshock therapies. “When I read Faulkner I can tell when he gets tired and does it on corn just as I used to be able to tell when Scott would hit it beginning with ‘Tender is the Night’,” said Hemingway, playing the Amy Winehouse role of denier-in-chief. He kept gloating track of his friends’ decline, all the while nervously checking out books on liver damage from the library; by the end, said George Plimpton, Hemingway’s liver protruded from his belly “like a long fat leech”.

Shone recently published a novel about the literary set and AA.