One man’s addiction to drunken writers


The NYT column Proof is about alcohol and society, and on the 20th, former bartender Brian McDonald poured a literary concoction of drunken writers and poets, Under the Literary Influence. For McDonald, the literature is as addictive as the drink that inspired it.

‘But this is how addictions begin, subtly and then suddenly. Soon I found myself devouring every hard-boiled word of Chandler’s. And then I read them again. I started talking in similes and metaphors. One day I told a dear friend that he had a face like a collapsed lung. I couldn’t help myself. A progression took hold. Chandler led me to Hammett and from Hammett I staggered to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald led me to Hemingway.

‘Sure, what drew me to these writers were their words: some terse and declarative, others colorful and descriptive. But the attraction also held something far more sinister: the subtle sound of ice clinking in a glass, the muted laughter of an inside joke told a few tables away, the seductive swirl of cigarette smoke climbing to the barroom ceiling. I couldn’t get enough.’

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