Wasted Words.

WONDERING WHY THE GREAT LITERARY DRUNKS ARE ALL MEN.


It’s not overly fashionable – particularly flying in the face of all those startling commercials where unfortunate lads & lasses imbibe one too many alcopops & crash spectacularly through a variety of glass objects – but I am an unabashed fan of drinking. I like thinking about it, listening to songs about it, & most of all I like reading about it. Particularly when what’s penned is deftly handled by hardened drinkers; seasoned imbibers; men with poison in their blood & blades in their pens.


I say men because I’m yet to stumble across a woman writer who has wholly captured the overwhelming possessiveness of drink as a ***** mistress. Why is this? I know plenty of salty ladies who come undone at the thought of a whiskey sour & an evening spent whirling around dens of ill repute, sticky with devlilish thoughts & tobacco smoke. & women can write with just as much venom & poetry & raw skin as their male counterparts. So where are those dames intoxicating my aching brain with portraits of staggers & soaked-up dizzies? Where is my female Bukowski? Where is the woman who writes the equivalent of: “Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body & your mind & throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you’re allowed to return to life & begin all over the next day. It’s like killing yourself, & then you’re reborn. I guess I’ve lived about 10 or 15 thousand lives now.”





God, it’s glorious. It’s writing that makes you see the hurt. & don’t for a moment go all wowsery on me & suggest I’m glorifying drinking, or celebrating alcoholism as a disease. My dad is crazy for books on war, but I don’t see him picking up a rifle & mowing down innocent bystanders on a bloodthirsty quest for valour. It’s possible to pay homage to something through poetry, or expel a particularly virulent demon with perfect prose. Listen to Donald Newlove: “I patiently uncurled the English tongue to make it speak plain, but it kept tying itself into gorgeous knots I couldn’t make sense of. & if the knot had a hard glow, like sunlight on snow, then I didn’t care about sense. This light overrode sense, or the need for it. Light is all. This, I’d assure myself with a thankful glance toward heaven, this is the best prose I’ve ever written.”

I want to marry writing like that. I want to put it in a brandy snifter & set fire to it. I want to smash a bottle against it & ride it out to sea.


The magnificent Kingsley Amis doesn’t even take women into consideration when he tackles “The Boozing Man’s Diet” in his book, Everyday Drinking: “The first, indeed the only, requirement of a diet is that it should lose you weight without reducing your alcoholic intake by the smallest degree. Well, & it should be simple: no charts, tables, menus, recipes. None of those pages of fusspottery which normally end – end, after you have wasted minutes ploughing your way through – ‘&, of course, no alcohol’ in tones of fatuous apology for laying tongue to something so pikestaff-plain. Of course? No alcohol? What kind of people do they think we are?”

This is masculine writing, inebriated writing. Why? & when will we as women challenge H.L. Mencken’s assertion that: “The harsh, useful things of the world, from pulling teeth to digging potatoes, are best done by men who are as starkly sober as so many convicts in the death-house, but the lovely & useless things, the charming & exhilarating things, are best done by men with, as the phrase is, a few sheets in the wind”?

blehtolife blehtolife
22-25, F
2 Responses May 11, 2012

I think you should write a book about all the things you know at this point in your life.I just saw about John Kennedy Toole who wrote his first novel at 16 and I think you may like what he wrote based on your other stories.He wrote Confederacy of Dunces and the Neon Bible which he wrote at 16."The Neon Bible, a grim, adolescent, sociological attack upon the hatreds caused by the various Calvinist religions in the South—and the fundamentalist mentality is one of the roots of what was happening in Alabama, etc." is from Wikipedia because it explains better what he wrote about than I could and I do not want to be a pluralists so I put it is quotes and told you where i got that from.
Anyway thanks for your words, they are entertaining me on a quiet day in the office.

ahhh. well,there was only one Bukowski-and he happened to be a dirty old man...

this did get me thinking,though.Dorothy Parker certainly springs to mind,but who would or could have inherited her painstakingly polished poisioned pen? Where are the libidinous pirate queens with calloused cutlass fingers on the grog spigot eager to plunder the next sleepy tropical hamlet? Beatnik chicks seldom woke in the hungover wreckage of dawn to plot out their next great escapist text...where are the sullen she-beast punkrock travelouges charting courses through dive bar exesses and neon blinking wrong sides of town?

your story makes me taste yesteryears cheap port and brandy excess-places I will hopefully never revisit,but hazy memories I'd not trade for any sort of normal existance.
Alcohol was a stern mistress for me,the divorce was prolonged and painful,but the mating call of popping cork even now gets my salivary glands working. cheers.