When Alcoholic Authors Sober Up

It’s a rite of passage for literary greats: not the Pulitzer or the Man Booker but a ticket to rehab. “Of America’s seven Nobel laureates, five were lushes,” writes Daily Beast contributor Tom Shone in a wonderful article in Intelligent Life Magazine. Brits favored the bottle, too, with everyone from Kingsley Amis to Malcolm Lowry doing “the conga to (in most cases) an early grave.” They were the souses of the literary world: a paranoid Ernest Hemingway checked books out of the library on liver damage. Stephen King says he was so drunk he doesn’t remember writing Cujo. And when John Cheever was arrested for vagrancy, he screamed: “My name is John Cheever! Are you out of your mind?” Well, someone was. After braving rehab, Cheever wrote to Truman Capote: “Listen, Truman. It’s the most terrible, glum place you can conceivably imagine. It’s really, really, really grim. But I did come out of there sober.”