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The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking

by

The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking Cover

ISBN13: 9781250039569
ISBN10: 1250039568
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Why is it that some of the greatest works of literature have been produced by writers in the grip of alcoholism, an addiction that cost them personal happiness and caused harm to those who loved them?

In The Trip to Echo Spring, Olivia Laing examines the link between creativity and alcohol through the work and lives of six extraordinary men: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver.

All six of these writers 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 cafés 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.

Review:

“A funny, tragic, and insightful journey for anyone who has read F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, or John Berryman; prepare to be smitten with this fresh offering. Those unfamiliar with these writers will want to read their works.” Library Journal (starred review)

Review:

“Laing, with shimmering detail and arresting insights, presents a beautifully elucidating and moving group portrait of writers enslaved by drink and redeemed by 'the capacity of literature to somehow...make one feel less flinchingly alone.'” Booklist (starred review)

Review:

“The tortured relationship between literary lions and their liquor illuminates the obscure terrain of psychology and art in this searching biographical meditation....Laing's astute analysis of the pervasive presence and meaning of drink in the writers' texts, and its reflection of the writers' struggle to shape — and escape — reality....A fine study of human frailty through the eyes of its most perceptive victims” Publishers Weekly (starred)

Review:

“A provocative, evocative blend of memoir, literary history and lyrical travel writing.” Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

In Olivia Laing's stunning work of unconventional biography, The Trip to Echo Spring, she delves deep into the lives of six of America's most revered yet notoriously troubled writers: John Cheever, Raymond Carver, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and the poet John Berryman.

She travels by train, plane, and highway to the key locations of each of these men's lives, from Key West to New Orleans, and from New York City to Washington state, seeing for herself the places that inspired much of their most famous works.

While there has been considerable scholarship on each writer, nobody until now has ever examined the clearest link between them: alcohol, and lots of it. Laing penetrates, with her astute and always engaging eye, the fascinatingly turbulent life of each author, revealing stunning truths about each one.

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About the Author

Olivia Laing is a writer and critic. Her first book, To the River, was published by Canongate in the U.K. to wide acclaim and shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. She has been the deputy books editor of the Observer, and writes for The Guardian, New Statesman, and The Times Literary Supplement, among other publications. She is a MacDowell Fellow, and has received grants from the Arts Council and the Authors Foundation. She lives in Cambridge, England.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

lukas, January 2, 2015 (view all comments by lukas)
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.
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jksquires, December 22, 2014 (view all comments by jksquires)
This wonderful book is perhaps the most hard to classify one I've ever read. Part travel narrative, part memoir, and part literacy criticism and a dissection of what makes anyone to drown themselves in the bottle might begin to describe it, but that is insufficient. The British author covers the effects of alcoholism on the lives of six brilliant authors and visits locations throughout the United States that were among the most familiar to them. Olivia Laing's prose is sparkling and her effort to understand these famous men is so intense that you can feel it jump off the page. I can't offer enough praise for this incredible work.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781250039569
Subtitle:
On Writers and Drinking
Author:
Laing, Olivia
Publisher:
Picador
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Social history
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Subject:
Creative Ability
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20131231
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

» Biography » Literary
» Featured Titles » Arts
» Featured Titles » Biography
» Featured Titles » Literature
» Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
» History and Social Science » Literary History » United States » General
» History and Social Science » World History » General
» Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
» Special

The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$13.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Picador - English 9781250039569 Reviews:
"Review" by , “A funny, tragic, and insightful journey for anyone who has read F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, or John Berryman; prepare to be smitten with this fresh offering. Those unfamiliar with these writers will want to read their works.”
"Review" by , “Laing, with shimmering detail and arresting insights, presents a beautifully elucidating and moving group portrait of writers enslaved by drink and redeemed by 'the capacity of literature to somehow...make one feel less flinchingly alone.'”
"Review" by , “The tortured relationship between literary lions and their liquor illuminates the obscure terrain of psychology and art in this searching biographical meditation....Laing's astute analysis of the pervasive presence and meaning of drink in the writers' texts, and its reflection of the writers' struggle to shape — and escape — reality....A fine study of human frailty through the eyes of its most perceptive victims”
"Review" by , “A provocative, evocative blend of memoir, literary history and lyrical travel writing.”
"Synopsis" by , In Olivia Laing's stunning work of unconventional biography, The Trip to Echo Spring, she delves deep into the lives of six of America's most revered yet notoriously troubled writers: John Cheever, Raymond Carver, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and the poet John Berryman.

She travels by train, plane, and highway to the key locations of each of these men's lives, from Key West to New Orleans, and from New York City to Washington state, seeing for herself the places that inspired much of their most famous works.

While there has been considerable scholarship on each writer, nobody until now has ever examined the clearest link between them: alcohol, and lots of it. Laing penetrates, with her astute and always engaging eye, the fascinatingly turbulent life of each author, revealing stunning truths about each one.

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