Women And The Clichés Of The Literary Drunkard

by Rachel Baker on September 17, 2015

I was drawn to the article below due to its mention of Dorothy Parker, as I really enjoy all things Dorothy Parker and Algonquin Roundtable – its probably more the time period than the actual people, though I really admire Parker’s bluntness. Most everything I’ve ever read about Parker – and I assure you, I’ve read more than my fair share – highlights the fact that she was often drunk, but never really approaches it in a way that makes her seem as pathetic as possible. I always wondered why many of the women who were both authors and alcoholics weren’t treated with the same romanticism as the male writers of the same ilk.

Below is a good look at this phenomenon while introducing three books by women authors who are admitted alcoholics. This is a truly interesting read about the view of the literary drunkard and the difference in whether or not said drunkard was male or female.

Read the Full article:
Drunk Confessions: Women and the clichés of the literary drunkard.

The contours of the void aren’t always obvious, not even after its existence has been seen and reckoned with. That is probably why, in pretty much every alcoholic’s memoir I’ve ever read, the need to drink is described in simple language, even cliché. For Sarah Hepola, in her new, best-selling Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, it’s “a God-shaped hole, a yearning, a hunger to be complete.” For Mary Karr, in Lit, a book governed by a poet’s love of wordplay, it’s simply a “black hole.” For Caroline Knapp, writing Drinking: A Love Story before either of them, it’s a “pit of loneliness and terror and rage.”

The paradox of the alcoholic’s memoir is that the feelings are not less powerful for being described in such a pedestrian way. If you are the right kind of reader for them—which is not to say a fellow alcoholic, as I am not—these books go down easy. It may be in part a voyeur’s thirst for stories of abjection that makes them such compulsive reading—that’s another cliché, a critical one—but good writers can take your curiosity and mold it into an empathetic movement. Empathy needs a supporting note, because it’s a self-help word, and we live in a culture that both guzzles and disdains self-help mantras: The understanding of self and others is obviously the only escape from addiction. If the point is to get out of your own head, then understanding yourself as part of a community is what will pull you out.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter; or you can follow her at The Crafty Veteran on Bloglovin. You can also follow her writing about women veteran interests at Shield Sisters

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Amazon Wish ListEvernoteFlipboardInstapaperNewsVineSpringpadWordPressTypePad PostStumbleUponLiveJournalPocketRedditShare

Previous post:

Next post: