Alcohol and the Writer

Donald W. Goodwin, Author Andrews McMeel Publishing $16.95 (210p) ISBN 978-0-8362-5925-4
In researching alcoholism, Goodwin, head of the University of Kansas Medical Center psychiatry department and author of Is Alcoholism Hereditary? , discovered that a great many prominent 20th century American writers drank to excess71%, the highest rate of any group studied. A deft biographical sketch precedes analysis of the drinking patterns, circumstances, heredity and psychological elements presumably responsible for the addictions of, among others, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Steinbeck and Faulkner. The author describes the writers' behavior while drunk, and attitudes towards drinking that range from shame to fatalism. He also appraises the effects of alcohol on their health and artistic sensibilitiesfor example, the LSD-like, absinthe-induced hallucinations reflected in Poe's work. Writing, Goodwin theorizes in his enlightening, thoughtful study, calls for exhibitionism, an interest in people, fantasy, and self-confidence, all of which alcohol promotes even as it assuages the loneliness and concentration which the craft requires. However, he notes, the extent to which writing and alcohol are related remains debatable. First serial to West Coast Review of Books. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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