Despite knowing better, I attempted to read another Olivia Laing book (I also attempted & abandoned The Lonely City a few times) simply because it’s an irresistible topic. One of my favorite movies of the year, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, even taps into this connection when Lee uses it as an excuse to get into sacred library texts to research her next book about drunk writers.
Early red flags warned me from continuing, like page 9’s admission that she was most interested in pursuing the stories of six men despite “many women writers [she] could have chosen.” Those crimson flags slapped me in the face by the time she was swooning over two of my least tolerated writers, Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald, painting them with the inaccurate golden boy brush and slandering Zelda per usual. I made it 100 pages before abandoning it. Devoted fans of the aforementioned writers plus Cheever, Carver, Berryman, and Tennesee Williams may feel differently.