The Trip to Echo Spring

The Trip to Echo Spring

On Writers and Drinking

Book - 2014
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In The Trip to Echo Spring, Olivia Laing examines the link between creativity and alcohol through the work and lives of six of America's finest writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver. All six of these men were alcoholics, and the subject of drinking surfaces in some of their finest work, from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to A Moveable Feast. Often, they did their drinking together: Hemingway and Fitzgerald ricocheting through the cafes of Paris in the 1920s; Carver and Cheever speeding to the liquor store in Iowa in the icy winter of 1973. Olivia Laing grew up in an alcoholic family herself. One spring, wanting to make sense of this ferocious, entangling disease, she took a journey across America that plunged her into the heart of these overlapping lives. As she travels from Cheever's New York to Williams's New Orleans, and from Hemingway's Key West to Carver's Port Angeles, she pieces together a topographical map of alcoholism, from the horrors of addiction to the miraculous possibilities of recovery. Beautiful, captivating, and original, The Trip to Echo Spring strips away the myth of the alcoholic writer to reveal the terrible price creativity can exert. - For readers of Amanda Vaill's When Everyone Was So Young, Elif Batuman's The Possessed, and Kingsley Amis's Everyday Drinking.
Publisher: New York : Picador, 2014
ISBN: 9781250039569
Branch Call Number: 810.9353 LAI
Characteristics: 340 pages : illustrations, map ; 22 cm


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Mar 13, 2021

I love her writing

Nov 20, 2018

NY Times recommended book Crudo. This book is by the same author.

Jan 02, 2015

Part memoir, part travelogue, part thematic literary history, English writer and critic Olivia Laing's book focuses on the drinking of six prominent 20th century American authors: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Cheever, Tennessee Williams, poet John Berryman, and the Northwest's own Raymond Carver. She travels around the country to cities associated with the authors (New York, Key West, Port Angeles), traces the effects drinking had on the writer's lives and work (and those around them), and weaves in bits of her own narrative. I don't usually like writers who bring their own story into a book about another subject, but Laing is sparing and subtle with her life, which includes family members who are alcoholics. We tend to romanticize these hard-drinking, hard-living writers, but Laing treats their drinking seriously and as a real problem, rather than fuel for their creativity. It was only when Carver, for example, got sober that he wrote the stories that his reputations rests upon. The book both deepens your understanding of the writers and serves as a cautionary tale. A unique, insightful, and powerful book.

Jun 16, 2014

Made me want to read more from these talented, flawed artists. also made me want to take an excursion by train. also made me want to put a cork in my fine bottle of bordeaux!

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