When Novelists Go Sober

In Intelligent Life, Tom Shone examines the effects of alcohol -- and sobriety -- on some of the great writers. The question is not whether those who stuck with drinking lose their ability -- a fairly inarguable point in many cases -- but whether those who were able to clamber onto sobriety could be counted as any better by literary standards:
Cheever was to die of kidney cancer within a few years—but for the effects of long-term sobriety we can turn to Raymond Carver, who, after the usual pile-up of emergency rooms, courtrooms, detox centres and drying-out clinics, got sober in 1977. For a year he wrote nothing (“I can’t convince myself it’s worth doing”), just played bingo and got fat on doughnuts, but then he remarried, and he went on to write some of his best work—he was nominated for a Pulitzer prize for his story collection, “Cathedral”, illuminating the downtrodden blue-collar lives he had written about before with unexpected moments of revelation and connection.
Read the full article here.


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