Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Writer from Hell


In Jeff Herman's extensive look at the publishing industry, each agent listed is asked to comment on "The Writer from Hell." The bane of the industry.

I decided to make a list of past writers who, for various reasons, whether their drinking, egos, temper, sloppiness, independence, or madness, were likely candidates for the feared and much avoided "Writer from Hell." A partial list:

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Wolfe, Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Will Shakespeare, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, William Blake, Thomas Malory, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan Poe, Francois Villon, Rimbaud, Celine, Genet, Emile Zola, Nikolai Gogol, Marquis deSade, Henry Miller, Jerzy Kosinski, Franz Kafka, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, D.A. Levy, Dorothy Parker, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Ambrose Bierce, Mary McCarthy, Lillian Hellman.

Who have I missed? I'm sure other names can be provided.

(More to follow.)


patricia said...

Well, I'm not too keen on the description 'writer from hell'. All those characteristics you described are in part, what made their art and their lives so fascinating.

That being said, I read a fascinating biography of Patricia Highsmith last year. She certainly battled demons and alcohol...

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Well, of course-- their "flaws," their individuality, is what helped make them all great writers.
Today's publishing industry seeks to qipe out such flaws-- to exclude such writers.
Agents and editors are generally among the most conformist individuals in society-- and seek those like themselves.
Artists-- including writers-- on the other hand are often misfits; the direct opposite of all-A's strivers.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

p.s. We'll certainly add Highsmith to the list.
One I realized myself I overlooked: Dylan Thomas.
How could I forget Dylan Thomas?

Brooklyn Frank said...

lol, great point, king.

FDW said...

Yeh, its easy to take DT for granted, 'cause he is all pervasive likewise and in the "green fuse" that drives both inspiration and aspiration of any living poet in American/English worth their muster, a wiseguy.

I posted my bottom line about the latest "discussion" as to whether Paris Review was an implicit arm of the CIA propaganda machine where hyperbolic'ly by bringing in "apocalyptic" DT facts in regard to Thomas and the Paris Review, explicit in what I'll call "The Assassination Of Dylan Thomas".
ATTACKING THE DEMI-PUPPETS, More CIA Fun Stuff post, comment from 2/10/08.
The key word here is "apocalyptic",
also meaning work, views, POETS, outside the accepted canon of the Police State.