Clarity NOT Claret –
December 30, 2019 – The four characters sit around a kitchen table drinking endless glasses of gin and talking about love. And a lot more. Carver, often regarded as one of America’s greatest short story writers. was also a legendary drunk. He sobered up the last 10 years of his short life, dying at 50 from lung cancer.
It got me thinking about alcohol and its complex role in American literary history. Undeniably brilliant, creative work has been written by dipsomaniacs. And just as undeniably, many a potentially brilliant piece of writing has been derailed by too much booze … When I came of age as a reader, many of the revered writers were heavy drinkers (the term alcoholic wasn’t widely applied at the time): Ernest Hemingway, Jean Rhys, Truman Capote, Patricia Highsmith, John Cheever, Dorothy Parker. I swallowed the romantic image of the outrageous, rule-defying, larger-than-life creative genius, glass of whiskey in hand, cigarette dangling out of the corner of the mouth, entertaining everyone in the bar until it was time to go home and write gorgeous prose.