By Andrew Shaffer
Harper Perennial, $14.99, 297 pages
Andrew Shaffer lost his illusions about the coolness of writers at a young age. Upon meeting his favorite writer, Andrew at least expected him to be more… well… cool. While he didn’t expect the author to have underwear thrown at him by groupies while he snorted cocaine and smelled of booze, Andrew did wonder where the scandal and cool factor had gone. Thus was born Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors. Descriptions of absinthe, opium and whiskey use and vice, unrepentant excessive boozing, doping, shooting up and debauchery with either sex are packed within these pages. Most of the writers in this genre won’t surprise you: Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lord Byron, the Marquis de Sade. But others, such as George Sand, William Faulkner and Dorothy Parker might surprise you.
“When this is over, all hell is going to break loose.”
Read a myriad of tales of addiction and debauchery, as only writers of earlier centuries and rock stars can write. Flinging typewriters off ships and words across the page, to one another and the world, these writers partied like rock stars long before rock and roll was invented. Conversely, to paraphrase Andrew Shaffer, many of these writers paid a high price for their successful degeneration. The press release calls Literary Rogues “addictively readable” and that’s quite the truth. From STDs to opiates and a visit with the Green Fairy, Literary Rogues is as addictive as the substances described, only far less harmful.
Reviewed by Axie Barclay