The tortured relationship between literary lions and their liquor illuminates the obscure terrain of psychology and art in this searching biographical medidation….Laing’s astute analysis of the pervasive presence and meaning of drink in the writers’ texts, and its reflection of the writers’ struggle to shape—and escape—reality…A fine study of human frailty through the eyes of its most perceptive victims.
And Hilary Mantel, the Booker Prize-winning author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, says
I’m sorry I’ve finished this wonderful book because I feel I’ve been talking to a wise friend. I’ve been trying to work out exactly how Olivia Laing drew me in, because I hardly drink myself and have no particular attachment to the group of writers whose trials she describes. I think the tone is beautifully modulated, knowledgeable yet intimate, and she can evoke a state of mind as gracefully as she evokes a landscape….I think this is a book for all writers or would-be writers, whether succeeding or failing, whether standing on their feet or flat on the pavement….It’s one of the best books I’ve read about the creative uses of adversity: frightening but perversely inspiring.
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