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Can Sobriety Change a Writing Career?

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When poet John Berryman, short story master Raymond Carver, and novelist John Cheever (pictured, via his recent biography) quit drinking, the effects of sobriety were profound.

Author and Daily Beast contributor Tom Shone published an Intelligent Life essay about what happened to the work of alcoholic writers when they stopped drinking. For too many writers, drinking and writing are intertwined–his essay takes a look at this fundamental myth.

Here’s an excerpt from the article: “[S]obering up is one of the more devastating acts of literary criticism an author can face. John Cheever‘s alcohol counsellors noted: ‘He dislikes seeing self negatively and seems to have internalised many rather imperious upper-class Boston attitudes which he ridicules and embraces at the same time’–which must rank among the sternest reviews he ever got.” (Via The Daily Beast)

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