A sober take on literary drinkers

The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink. By Olivia Laing. Canongate, €25.20.

20th July, 2013
Ernest Hemingway: the American author famously said 'write drunk; edit sober'.

Olivia Laing's new book promises to answer, or at least to address, a kind of literary mystery. "In this century," Gore Vidal wrote glumly in 1980, "it would be safe to say that a significant per cent of American writers are to a greater or lesser degree alcoholics, and why this should be the case I leave to the medicine men."

Laing is no doctor (she is the author of a previous book about Virginia Woolf's...

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