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Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors

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In Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, Andrew Shaffer explored the romantic failures of some of the great minds in history. Now, in Literary Rogues, he turns his unflinching eye and wit to explore our love-hate relationship with literature's most contrarian, drunken, vulgar, and just plain rude bad boys (and girls) in this very funny and shockingly true compendium of li In Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, Andrew Shaffer explored the romantic failures of some of the great minds in history. Now, in Literary Rogues, he turns his unflinching eye and wit to explore our love-hate relationship with literature's most contrarian, drunken, vulgar, and just plain rude bad boys (and girls) in this very funny and shockingly true compendium of literary misbehavior. Vice wasn't always the domain of rock stars, rappers, and actors. There was a time when writers fought both with words and fists, a time when writing was synonymous with drinking and early mortality. The very mad geniuses whose books are studied in schools around the world are the very ones who fell in love repeatedly, and either outright killed themselves or drank or drugged themselves as close to death's door as they could possibly get. Literary Rogues turns back the clock to celebrate historical and living legends of Western literature, such as: Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Hunter S. Thompson, and Bret Easton Ellis. Part nostalgia, part serious history of Western literary movements, and Literary Rogues is a wholly raucous celebration of oft-vilified writers and their work, brimming with interviews, research, and personality.


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In Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, Andrew Shaffer explored the romantic failures of some of the great minds in history. Now, in Literary Rogues, he turns his unflinching eye and wit to explore our love-hate relationship with literature's most contrarian, drunken, vulgar, and just plain rude bad boys (and girls) in this very funny and shockingly true compendium of li In Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, Andrew Shaffer explored the romantic failures of some of the great minds in history. Now, in Literary Rogues, he turns his unflinching eye and wit to explore our love-hate relationship with literature's most contrarian, drunken, vulgar, and just plain rude bad boys (and girls) in this very funny and shockingly true compendium of literary misbehavior. Vice wasn't always the domain of rock stars, rappers, and actors. There was a time when writers fought both with words and fists, a time when writing was synonymous with drinking and early mortality. The very mad geniuses whose books are studied in schools around the world are the very ones who fell in love repeatedly, and either outright killed themselves or drank or drugged themselves as close to death's door as they could possibly get. Literary Rogues turns back the clock to celebrate historical and living legends of Western literature, such as: Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Hunter S. Thompson, and Bret Easton Ellis. Part nostalgia, part serious history of Western literary movements, and Literary Rogues is a wholly raucous celebration of oft-vilified writers and their work, brimming with interviews, research, and personality.

30 review for Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

    In a world obsessed with celebrities (and the trainwrecks which often are their lives), it's no wonder a book like this is put out. Granted, curiosity plays a part in checking out such a collection, but barely half way through, I felt no remorse for simply stuffing it back in my library bag for return. How do I explain? Marquis de Sade, Poe, Fitzgerald, Parker, Hemingway, Kerouac, Thompson ... I seriously don't have a burning desire to know the sordid details of your lives. Some of you I read and e In a world obsessed with celebrities (and the trainwrecks which often are their lives), it's no wonder a book like this is put out. Granted, curiosity plays a part in checking out such a collection, but barely half way through, I felt no remorse for simply stuffing it back in my library bag for return. How do I explain? Marquis de Sade, Poe, Fitzgerald, Parker, Hemingway, Kerouac, Thompson ... I seriously don't have a burning desire to know the sordid details of your lives. Some of you I read and enjoy your words for what they are. It's not uncommon to want to know more about the one who has penned those words. But when the overwhelming mess which constitutes their lives overshadows those same words ... for me, they lose something. Maybe it's because the "bad boy" thing never had much effect on me. I wasn't interested in James Dean. I wanted Jimmy Stewart. I wanted the shy, new boy who moved to my high school freshman year, rarely spoke and was, more often than not, reading in some corner. "Still waters run deep," they say. Keep your rock-star lifestyles. Save them for those who are impressed by them. I'll quietly keep crushing on Thoreau.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ravi Prakash

    "Do not attempt to indulge in any of the vices on display within these pages without first consulting either a physician or a lawyer. Probably both, just to be safe." The above is a disclaimer by author on the first page of the book. This book is a collection of capsule biographies of more than 30 authors, male and female, who were, however, great in their writing but very disturbed, maniac, drug-addicted, schizophrenic, sadist, and suffering from various psychological disorders. Starting from "The "Do not attempt to indulge in any of the vices on display within these pages without first consulting either a physician or a lawyer. Probably both, just to be safe." The above is a disclaimer by author on the first page of the book. This book is a collection of capsule biographies of more than 30 authors, male and female, who were, however, great in their writing but very disturbed, maniac, drug-addicted, schizophrenic, sadist, and suffering from various psychological disorders. Starting from "The Vice Lord", "The Sadist", Marquis De Sade the book ends on "The Bad Boy of American Letters", James Frey. In the journey, from Sade to Frey, you will meet other psychotics, neurotics, eccentrics and derelicts such as the Pope of Dope- Thomas De Quency, the Apostle of Affliction- Lord Byron, the French and English Decadents like Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, Oscar Wilde and Ernest Dowson, and then comes the Jazz and Lost Generation of US, the Fitzgeralds, Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway etc, after that the Beat Generation of Kerouac and Ginsberg and Burroughs-most drug and alcohol consuming writers. So this is about it. If you aren't addicted to any vice, drug, alcohol, or gunshooting, Muse is not going to bless you in your literary endeavors. 😄 Well, in my opinion, this collection exhibits the darkest aspect of personal life of famous writers; some of them had a bright side too, and some had only the dark one; Some of them fell in the addiction for enlightening their writing and some of them were genuinely addicted and in spite of that they wrote great books. And yes, they wrote about what they really were. It seems impossible to separate the artist from the art. The book also compels to think why the most gifted and talented are so tortured and wild?? At times, the book is entertaining, informative, shocking, engrossing, sometimes funny, sometimes heart-rending, full of ironical and jaw-dropping facts. So now, when you have learned these facts about the book, without a few interesting stories, the review will not be up to the mark... #1 As a young man, Balzac was a nice 'bro' type guy, a friend of many women, but lover of none. He tried a lot to gain the attention of the opposite sex, but failed every time. Once, he took dancing lessons in preparation to woo ladies with his gracefulness on the dance floor. When, after months of preparation, he made his grand entrance in a ballroom in front of a crowd of women, he slipped and fell. All the women present there laughed and Balzac never danced again. In one of his novels, he mentions, "women one and all have condemned me. I determined myself to revenge on society; I would dominate the feminine intellect, and so have the feminine soul at my mercy." #2 Fitzgerald dressed up in a suit for his sixth birthday and waited all afternoon for his friends. No one came. He was so sad that he consumed the whole birthday cake including several candles. Fitzgerald later wrote, "Parties are a kind of suicide." #3 William S. Burroughs, a junkie and gunshooting addict committed homicide. Yes, you read it correct. In September 1951, Burroughs accidentally shot and killed his wife Vollmer while entertaining some friends at their home in Mexico. Tired of her husband's constant bragging about his marksmanship, Vollmer balanced a high glass of gin on her head and dared Burroughs to take a shot. They were both drunk. Burroughs took aim at his wife with his .38 caliber pistol and fired. The bullet missed the glass and hit Vollmer squarely in the head. She died on the spot. There are many more fascinating and horrifying stories in the book. A lot of them should be read in the book only in private. Nowadays, unrepentant boozers and addicts in the tradition of Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Burroughs, Dylon Thomas, Kerouac are conspicuously absent from bestseller lists, where the courteous and sober rule the day. But one living American writer of this tradition has commented on that, " Writers used to be cool, now they are just sort of wimps." Well, whatever happened to the "Literary Rogues" of yesteryear, just turn back the clock to visit them who were as likely to appear in gossip rags as they were to be in bestseller lists, who wrote generation defining classics as Madam Bovary, The Great Gatsby, On the Road etc and earned the coveted spot in literary hall of fame. The style is conversational and the contents are meticulously researched. A long bibliography is given in the end. Thank you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Ravey

    From thepickygirl.com: *This book was offered to me via the publisher, Harper Perennial, in exchange for an honest review. In January, a friend and I went to a Half Price Books. We separated, looking at the shelves obsessively. As I moved from one aisle to another, I heard this little gem: “You know Hemingway hated women, right? He was, like, worse than Eminem.” I looked at the only other person in the aisle, who happened to be my friend, and raised my eyebrows. Poor Hemingway. Worse than Eminem. F From thepickygirl.com: *This book was offered to me via the publisher, Harper Perennial, in exchange for an honest review. In January, a friend and I went to a Half Price Books. We separated, looking at the shelves obsessively. As I moved from one aisle to another, I heard this little gem: “You know Hemingway hated women, right? He was, like, worse than Eminem.” I looked at the only other person in the aisle, who happened to be my friend, and raised my eyebrows. Poor Hemingway. Worse than Eminem. For whatever (ok, some justified) reason, Hemingway has always been the poster child of authors behaving badly. But he was far from the only one, and Andrew Shaffer’s Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors takes a look at some of these authors, going all the way back to the Marquis de Sade and running up to (my least favorite) literary bad boy, Brett Easton Ellis. Though you likely know at least a little about many of the authors included, Shaffer’s focus on their addictions and afflictions makes for interesting reading, particularly in the drugs of choice, which change according to trends. Absinthe, opium, and alcohol all make the list, as does LSD. The presence of all that mind-altering material makes you wonder how these people could possibly get any work done. Give me a glass of wine, and I want sleep. Give most of these guys a liter, and they’re workaholics. Literary Rogues is like the crack it refers to so often. Even with my knowledge of almost all of these writers, I didn’t want to stop reading. It’s a compendium of bad behavior and a testament to the greatest generation of writers and their capabilities. Often, their stories are incredibly sad, and though Shaffer’s wit lightens the tone a bit, more often than not I was left with a vague sense of unease. Not that Shaffer attempts to romanticize these addicts and mentally ill people, but in a way, we as a culture do. Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton are revered by many, as is Dorothy Parker. Ginsberg and Kerouac have never lost their cult status. It is their genius in the face of their flaws that we seem to find so appealing. In fact, Shaffer refers to several agents and their inability to rein in their clients’ habits and addictions. Though it isn’t overt, Shaffer does seem to be asking if they were merely powerless or if they encouraged the persona and idiosyncrasies as a means of selling books. Shaffer remarks at one point that the tame nature of most writers these days might be the availability of rehab and the lack of stigma. However, there’s something else that seems to mark the end of the depraved writers: MFA programs. He does get to some of the more contemporary writers (and two of my favorites), John Cheever and Raymond Carver and their stints at Iowa and its infamous workshops. But these are more cautionary tales – men who couldn’t get themselves out of their cups in order to teach. Once writing became something to learn, perhaps it lost its hedonism. Writing was then institutionalized, another form of constraint. Of course, Ellis and McInerny (who studied with Carver) would be the exceptions here. Shaffer does ponder the image changes, but the book never goes any further, and honestly, it isn’t intended to. A fun book for lovers of literature, Literary Rogues is perfect for those in a reading slump, anyone who likes to prime their palette between books, and/or those who don’t ordinarily enjoy nonfiction.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alvin

    This starts out OK, detailing the debauchery of 18th & 19th century authors like Shelley, Balzac, and Poe, who led quite dramatic lives. I lost interest when it got to the early 20th century authors (spoiler alert: they were unhappy and drank a lot!) and the mid-20th century was almost as bad (drugs!). It really hit rock bottom when trying to pass off the consequence-free antics of the barely-even-talented late-20th century bad boy poseurs like Jay McInerny and Brett Easton Ellis as interesting. This starts out OK, detailing the debauchery of 18th & 19th century authors like Shelley, Balzac, and Poe, who led quite dramatic lives. I lost interest when it got to the early 20th century authors (spoiler alert: they were unhappy and drank a lot!) and the mid-20th century was almost as bad (drugs!). It really hit rock bottom when trying to pass off the consequence-free antics of the barely-even-talented late-20th century bad boy poseurs like Jay McInerny and Brett Easton Ellis as interesting. The last chapter focuses on James Frey, author of a recovery memoir in which he greatly exaggerated his downfall to be more interesting and got caught, precipitating a scandal. Shaffer exonerates Frey for his dishonesty, insisting we should just be glad he wasn't all that bad, which quite annoyed me. A competent prose stylist can tell even the most boring truth in an interesting way; anyone who deliberately deceives their readers is not simply not worth thinking about.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    Literary Rogues consists of portraits of the 'bad boys' of literature, though some women, too, merit a place within these pages. These are the authors with wild lifestyles, drug habits, and an endless string of romantic relationships. Though not a history tome by any means, this relatively brief nonfiction book is a delightful light read for those curious about author biographies but not perhaps committed to a full length work on a particular author. As a reader, I cannot help but be fascinate b Literary Rogues consists of portraits of the 'bad boys' of literature, though some women, too, merit a place within these pages. These are the authors with wild lifestyles, drug habits, and an endless string of romantic relationships. Though not a history tome by any means, this relatively brief nonfiction book is a delightful light read for those curious about author biographies but not perhaps committed to a full length work on a particular author. As a reader, I cannot help but be fascinate by authors and the lives that they live. Of course, most authors do not live lives radically different from other people. In our imaginations, though, they take on characteristics of their characters, of their narratives. Shaffer opens by relating a story from his youth, wherein he meets Marvel Comics writer Frank Castle. Shaffer had a number of expectations of what Castle would be like, and none of them came close to the reality. In Literary Rogues, Shaffer peers into the lives of some of the most famously vibrant, dramatic personalities in writing and shows both how exciting their lives were and how sad. Literary Rogues will appeal to fans of general knowledge. If you love trivia, there are endless tidbits to be garnered from within these pages. For example, William S. Burroughs murdered his wife (in a drunken game of William Tell) and Norman Mailer stabbed his. Fun facts, no? Almost all of the wayward authors struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, often combined with mental disorders, like depression. It's really tragic the way these lives fell apart. I also find it odd that some lived to such old ages, though they partook of terrible life choices just as much as anyone else. The drugs and alcohol become so tied up in the creative process of writing that the habits are hard to shake, for fear of losing talent. The time period ranges from the Marquis de Sade to James Frey. The earlier authors are covered chapter by chapter, with a brief rundown of their life and some of the wildest stories. As Shaffer moves forward in time, he begins interweaving more authors into each chapter, covering the generations and adding in more history, this seeming to be more where his passion lies. Though I can see why he switched up his style, I preferred the more organized method of tackling one author at a time. I also struggled a bit with the sections on the Beat Generation and Ken Kesey's group, since I took a college course on them and new most of the information already. Shaffer's writing style is very readable, and he adds quite a bit of humor to subject matter which alternates between depressing and hilariously ridiculous. For an overview of some of the most sensational authors, Literary Rogues is a great choice, and, now that I know a bit more about these authors, I know which ones I want to research more extensively.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    I loved this book! It is a fantastic compilation of the bad boys and bad girls of literature. It was packed full of stories and tidbits of authors such as Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many more. Each chapter is dedicated to a different era of literature and the authors that belonged to each. First of all, this was a wonderful way to describe each of the eras, but it was also a great way to realize how closely knit the authors were with each other. This le I loved this book! It is a fantastic compilation of the bad boys and bad girls of literature. It was packed full of stories and tidbits of authors such as Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many more. Each chapter is dedicated to a different era of literature and the authors that belonged to each. First of all, this was a wonderful way to describe each of the eras, but it was also a great way to realize how closely knit the authors were with each other. This leads to a better understanding of the scandalous histories of each. This book was simultaneously entertaining, informative and heartbreaking. There are truly some hilarious stories in this collection, but they are all bittersweet in their own way the more recent in history you get. Any book-lover would love this book! It is written humorously well and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys books, writing, or interesting people!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jim Dooley

    LITERARY ROGUES is a series of short essays about Writers (be they poets, novelists, playwrights or a combination of two or more of these) behaving badly. Most fell under the thrall of alcoholism or drug addiction (or, again, both). Some suffered mental illness. However, they all produced works that drew attention and were heralded. Despite that, it was if they needed to dampen down the genius within. In many ways, reading this felt like reading a better-written edition of the “National Enquirer LITERARY ROGUES is a series of short essays about Writers (be they poets, novelists, playwrights or a combination of two or more of these) behaving badly. Most fell under the thrall of alcoholism or drug addiction (or, again, both). Some suffered mental illness. However, they all produced works that drew attention and were heralded. Despite that, it was if they needed to dampen down the genius within. In many ways, reading this felt like reading a better-written edition of the “National Enquirer.” I had heard of many of these outcomes through the years. Taking them all in over a few sittings seemed like an overkill of gossip-mongering. A number of the writer’s comments about these lives were cutting and ... I believe the term I’m seeking is “snarky.” There was little recognition of the pain caused by all of this. When I finished the collection, I wanted to have reached a bit more understanding. Why does one favorite author drink to insensibility while another doesn’t imbibe to extremes at all? What might we have read if the creativity had not been suppressed? Is there a connection that ties these diminished lives together? There was no attempt to explore under the surface level. The book was a simple recounting. With some deeper exploration, it could have been a fascinating reference.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    This is a quick fun read if you like to learn about the mostly "bad boys" of writing but don't want to read huge biographies of them. While I knew my fair share about Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Anne Sexton, it provided info on some other writers that I'd kind of skipped over in my reading life, such as Brett Easton Ellis and Norman Mailer. This is a quick fun read if you like to learn about the mostly "bad boys" of writing but don't want to read huge biographies of them. While I knew my fair share about Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Anne Sexton, it provided info on some other writers that I'd kind of skipped over in my reading life, such as Brett Easton Ellis and Norman Mailer.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brian Willis

    A fun, whimsical look at the sordid private lives of famous authors and poets. Though I knew some of these stories, I still shake my head in astonishment at how far substance abuse and madness can go. A fun read especially if this sounds like a subject that will interest you.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jason Robinson

    An entertaining read about literature's bad boys (and girls). Lifestyles written about may be hazardous to your health! An entertaining read about literature's bad boys (and girls). Lifestyles written about may be hazardous to your health!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian Bixler

    Andrew Shaffer's "Literary Rogues" is an easy read with highly liftable quotes and engaging anecdotes about some of the greatest literary minds of the last two centuries. However, it wasn't exactly the book I thought it would be, based on the title. Yes, many of these authors went their own way when it came to conventions of their times. But, really, Shaffer has compiled stories about writers who have one thing in common: addiction. From Thomas De Quincey's laudanum to Hunter S. Thompson's LSD, Andrew Shaffer's "Literary Rogues" is an easy read with highly liftable quotes and engaging anecdotes about some of the greatest literary minds of the last two centuries. However, it wasn't exactly the book I thought it would be, based on the title. Yes, many of these authors went their own way when it came to conventions of their times. But, really, Shaffer has compiled stories about writers who have one thing in common: addiction. From Thomas De Quincey's laudanum to Hunter S. Thompson's LSD, each writer indulged in his or her drug of choice, which defined their character and, in some cases, their work. When laid side by side, by side, chapter after chapter, it's astounding the number of great talents tortured by addiction, depression and suicidal tendencies. Reading this book, one wonders how luminaries like Byron, Hemingway and Fitzgerald were able to produce the masterpieces that they did. And Shaffer brings the various afflictions right up to present day by ending the book with a short profile of James Frey. "Somehow, even total failures at the game of life like John Berryman have achieved immortality by virtue of their pens," Shaffer writes. It was surprising to learn that writing was considered an extremely ignoble profession after printing processes created a mass market for books centuries ago. There are also some revelations about much-admired writers that will raise some eyebrows. If there's a criticism about "Literary Rogues," it would be its brevity. It's very difficult to sum up an entire life in just a few pages and still create a lucid portrait of the subject. For example, Shaffer closes his chapter on F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald with a comment about theirs being one of the great love stories of our time, yet the reader barely gets a sense of it from the rest of what he writes about them. Furthermore, the author's tone can be at times too insouciant and lighthearted for the serious topics and sometimes tragic subjects he tackles. If nothing else, the book is a great springboard for learning more about these literary giants by reading full, fleshed-out biographies.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    If you are a lit buff, there is nothing in these pages that will come as any surprise to you. The book is a fun, quick ride. Brief bios of all kinds of men (and a sprinkling of women) who led colorful and self-destructive lives that probably reduced their output by decades. Interspersed, this collection of addicts and train wrecks managed to write some of the greatest books in the world before departing this mortal coil. Opium and laudanum play a prominent role in many of these writers lives. Sec If you are a lit buff, there is nothing in these pages that will come as any surprise to you. The book is a fun, quick ride. Brief bios of all kinds of men (and a sprinkling of women) who led colorful and self-destructive lives that probably reduced their output by decades. Interspersed, this collection of addicts and train wrecks managed to write some of the greatest books in the world before departing this mortal coil. Opium and laudanum play a prominent role in many of these writers lives. Second place is alcohol with all the rest of the pharmacopia falling back to a distant third. Sprinkle in some serious mental health issues among this group and you pretty much have your rogues gallery. No bio is particularly long. A couple of pages is enough to hit the high points and to send you in the right direction if you want to delve further into an individual authors work and life. It's a whose who- from Poe, to Coleridge, to Fitzgerald and Hemingway and right on up to gonzo journalist and writer Hunter S. Thompson. If you are a throwback romantic hoping that massive amounts of heroin and alcohol will feed your genius, then maybe this work is an inspiration. If you are more of realist though, the romance of these authors addictions wears off quite quickly when you realize that but for their crutch, they could have written so much more. The true fun of the book is that it is a short read and its focus is on people who had a love affair with the written word. That is always and inspiration for any writer. It also helps to put in perspective the truth that most writers are not out there making a million dollars. Many times the work of these authors reached their greatest audience after their untimely deaths. Take heart – sobriety might just help you get your work out there. If not, you might be a rich corpse!

  13. 4 out of 5

    rpw

    As I read this book I was a little taken aback when I would catch myself smiling and chuckling at passages I read. I mean, this is tragic stuff. These are literary greats who fought their demons to produce works of literature that defined their generation. Why did I find it humorous? Then it dawned on me. There wasn't anything wrong with me. It was Andrew Shaffer. His ability to present these larger than life men and women in all their flawed glory, shining a light not only on their genius but o As I read this book I was a little taken aback when I would catch myself smiling and chuckling at passages I read. I mean, this is tragic stuff. These are literary greats who fought their demons to produce works of literature that defined their generation. Why did I find it humorous? Then it dawned on me. There wasn't anything wrong with me. It was Andrew Shaffer. His ability to present these larger than life men and women in all their flawed glory, shining a light not only on their genius but on their proclivity for self-destruction while sprinkling in just the right amount of whit and snark so that the book doesn't read like a trudge knee deep through the sludge of despair. I usually reserve 5 stars for works that draw me in so completely that I forget reality and live in the book for a while. Books that have me checking how much more I have to read because I don't want them to end. Books that seem to crawl into your pores and come to life while feeding off of your emotions. This book did none of that. What it did do is leave an imprint on me that will change what I bring to the works of these authors. I'll read them with new eyes and a new respect for what it cost them to be writers and for a few of them I'll marvel at how they were ever able to put pen to paper in the first place. And it has made me want to sincerely ask every writer I follow whether on the internet or at book signings, "How are you? No, really how are you?" For that and for contributing to my already out of control To Be Read list I give this book 5 stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Casia Pickering

    I recieved this First Reads Goodreads Giveaway book for an honest review. Nonfiction tends to be the bane of my existence. It never fails, I am always lagging behind in a nonfiction book and become disinterested. That was until this book. Though it did take longer than a fiction book for me, LITERARY ROGUES was an interesting enough read to keep me going. I love looking into the lives of writers and seeing a part of them that not many people usually think about. I used to sit for every Biography c I recieved this First Reads Goodreads Giveaway book for an honest review. Nonfiction tends to be the bane of my existence. It never fails, I am always lagging behind in a nonfiction book and become disinterested. That was until this book. Though it did take longer than a fiction book for me, LITERARY ROGUES was an interesting enough read to keep me going. I love looking into the lives of writers and seeing a part of them that not many people usually think about. I used to sit for every Biography channel special that had to do with a writer I liked. LITERARY ROGUES played with the darker part of those famous authors. It showed the scandals and vices of a handful of writers, and I’m sure there are more out there in history that even the author didn’t think about. Most of the scandals had to do with drugs and alcohol, which isn’t all that unusual, but occasionally you will read about someone you really were shocked about. Shaffer writes like a person talks and it feels more like someone having a good conversation about writers instead of reading like a typical nonfiction. He twists fact with dark humor; which makes it hard for me not to laugh when an especially crazy moment is described. If you like history, writers, or just a good scandal here and there; LITERARY ROGUES would be a good addition to your reading list.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I am not a history buff so I am not that familiar with most of the authors featured in this book. However it seemed like things that I could find out about the authors from the internet. So what I am saying is nothing new learned other then getting myself familiar with the authors. However I do have to say that the bad boys and girls of literature at least were productive and made the most of their badness then the celebrities of Hollywood. The authors helped to produce history of great reading. I am not a history buff so I am not that familiar with most of the authors featured in this book. However it seemed like things that I could find out about the authors from the internet. So what I am saying is nothing new learned other then getting myself familiar with the authors. However I do have to say that the bad boys and girls of literature at least were productive and made the most of their badness then the celebrities of Hollywood. The authors helped to produce history of great reading. All that celebrities do is make messes and help sell tabloid gossip magazines. They don’t even write the magazines. Oh how our world has changed. I am not a gossip fan. I would rather get my stories from books. I could tell that Mr. Shaffer did do his homework. He shared details about the authors in this book in good detail. Enough that the reader got something from each short story. Literary Rogues is a good conversation book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    This book glosses over all of the many writers it profiles. Each bio feels like a Wikipedia page condensed by Reader's Digest. So-and-so was born, got raging drunk, wrote a classic, died (probably early). There is no insight into who these people were, and rarely any discussion about their actual literary output. The author's tone is flippant and irreverant, which does a disservice to some of the literary greats. The book's problems stem from the plethora of writers he actually discusses. Instea This book glosses over all of the many writers it profiles. Each bio feels like a Wikipedia page condensed by Reader's Digest. So-and-so was born, got raging drunk, wrote a classic, died (probably early). There is no insight into who these people were, and rarely any discussion about their actual literary output. The author's tone is flippant and irreverant, which does a disservice to some of the literary greats. The book's problems stem from the plethora of writers he actually discusses. Instead of focusing on six or seven authors, thereby delving deeper into each one individually, he presents 25 separate chapters (many comprising more than one profile), and never gets and further than surface details. It also has no idea how to deal with the "rogue" aspect. At times the author seems to condem these people's bad boy behavior; at other times he romanticizes it. Overall a tremendous let down of what is a promsing topic.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rita Varian

    Basically, it's good bathroom reading. I kind of expected a little more in-depth analysis - I wouldn't want the author to prove some big thesis, just a few relevant themes. Like the myth of the genius, how we came to expect some insanity/bad behavior from a genius, who is somehow set apart from the rest of the species. Also the idea that drugs can enhance creativity. There was some discussion of these, but nothing too probing. Some bits were really witty. The parts that appeared the worst to me w Basically, it's good bathroom reading. I kind of expected a little more in-depth analysis - I wouldn't want the author to prove some big thesis, just a few relevant themes. Like the myth of the genius, how we came to expect some insanity/bad behavior from a genius, who is somehow set apart from the rest of the species. Also the idea that drugs can enhance creativity. There was some discussion of these, but nothing too probing. Some bits were really witty. The parts that appeared the worst to me were about a couple of authors I happen to have read big fat biographies of. Then the bite-sized naughtiness-centered bio doesn't seem to do a person justice.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Virginia

    Hugely informative and Entertaining it its entirety! Never have I realized the true bad-assery of authors (and especially poets!) until reading this book. Andrew Schaffer takes us on a tour of all the major literary periods while focusing on a select few big names within each one i.e. Percy and Mary Shelley for the Romantic period. But this is far from the history they taught you in school, expect to find drunkenness, debauchery and depression in spades...and all the ways such dysfunctional liv Hugely informative and Entertaining it its entirety! Never have I realized the true bad-assery of authors (and especially poets!) until reading this book. Andrew Schaffer takes us on a tour of all the major literary periods while focusing on a select few big names within each one i.e. Percy and Mary Shelley for the Romantic period. But this is far from the history they taught you in school, expect to find drunkenness, debauchery and depression in spades...and all the ways such dysfunctional lives and destructive behaviors have shaped the literature you found yourself saddened to read in class. After reading this, you may have a renewed interest in the classics, I know I sure did.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sally Wilsey

    I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway and was pleased at the prompt delivery. I must say as a person who reads practically everything I can get my hands on. This book was so interesting to me as I have read most of the authors, both for pleasure and for school requirements eons ago. Some of them I knew about their addictions, others came as a complete surprize. Never would have thought it of them or even guessed. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a book lover of all genres or not. My ha I won this in a Goodreads Giveaway and was pleased at the prompt delivery. I must say as a person who reads practically everything I can get my hands on. This book was so interesting to me as I have read most of the authors, both for pleasure and for school requirements eons ago. Some of them I knew about their addictions, others came as a complete surprize. Never would have thought it of them or even guessed. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a book lover of all genres or not. My hats off to Andrew Shaffer for his research and writing skill that keep you wanting to know more.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hillary Seidl

    Andrew Shaffer cuts to the good stuff in his latest work, LITERARY ROGUES. This read is a fun, informative and intelligent look at vices, addiction, and copious amounts of drug addled poets and writers. In short, this is the money shot of entertaining non-fiction. Hillary Seidl ARC in exchange for honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    This was a great read! I learned lots of things I never knew about many of the authors listed. I thoroughly enjoyed the short and simple essays. There was a lot of information packed into a tiny little book. It's one of those books you can pick up and lay down and not miss a thing. Easy to peruse and fun facts, to boot! ;-) This was a great read! I learned lots of things I never knew about many of the authors listed. I thoroughly enjoyed the short and simple essays. There was a lot of information packed into a tiny little book. It's one of those books you can pick up and lay down and not miss a thing. Easy to peruse and fun facts, to boot! ;-)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shayera Tangri

    A witty and interesting look at the bad boys (and occasional bad girls) of literature through the ages. Funny and engaging.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vanita Carrillo-rush

    Loved! So entertaining...writers can be such degenerate rock stars.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mignon

    Shocking, entertaining, engrossing, gross, and sometimes funny. More than once I called out to my husband with "You gotta hear this," and read a passages to him. Shocking, entertaining, engrossing, gross, and sometimes funny. More than once I called out to my husband with "You gotta hear this," and read a passages to him.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    Reading this book for me was a rather Nathanish experience, full of ambivalence and amusing irony and complexity.  The author is himself a successful writer of multiple volumes of material that has been generally humorous and sometimes decadent, and here he turns his attention on the struggles and failures of writers to live decent and decorous lives.  Yet if this book is written with a somewhat moralistic purpose of showing how writers have often lived dysfunctional lives and how writing has ty Reading this book for me was a rather Nathanish experience, full of ambivalence and amusing irony and complexity.  The author is himself a successful writer of multiple volumes of material that has been generally humorous and sometimes decadent, and here he turns his attention on the struggles and failures of writers to live decent and decorous lives.  Yet if this book is written with a somewhat moralistic purpose of showing how writers have often lived dysfunctional lives and how writing has typically been viewed as a rather poor route to financial success and personal happiness, the point of the book is undercut at least slightly by the author's own success at writing, which would tend to encourage the reader to try to be the exception rather than the depressing rule detailed here.  It seems likely, given the humorous nature of the author's work as a whole, that this ironic undercutting of the book's sentiment is intended, as there is little that is more consistent about the author's body of work as a whole than a commitment to the undercutting of sentiment in favor of humor and sarcasm.  Whether or not this is to every reader's taste is left for each reader to decide for oneself. This short book of roughly 250 pages or so is mostly divided into twenty-five looks at writers who frequently lived fast, died young, and left diseased corpses.  Beginning with the notorious Marquis du Sade, the author examines drugged out writers like Coleridge and De Quincey, the afflicted and tormented Lord Byron, the romantic Shelleys, Edgar Allen Poe, and French realists like Balzac, Flaubert, and Sand.  The author then continues in discussing the lives of Baudelaire, the French decadents Rimbaud and Verlaine, as well as English decadents like Wilde and Dowson.  Moving into the twentieth century the author discusses the Fitzgeralds and the lost generation, flapper poets Parker and Millay, as well as Hemingway and Faulkner.  Dylan Thomas and the beat poetry of Kerouac and Ginsburg, the funky Burroughs, and more dead poets like Berryman and Sexton follow, along with merry pranksters like Kesey, new "journalists" like Mailer and Capote, and freaks like Thompson follow.  The author then closes with a look at Cheever and Carver, McInerney and Ellis, Wurtzel, and Frey, and examines where the cowboys have gone in contemporary writing before ending with the usual acknowledgments, endnotes, bibliography, and index. A book like this has a difficult line to straddle.  The moralistic condemnation of lives of vice and debauchery (of which there is plenty to be found here) can easily romanticize the sort of vice that is being condemned.  The author seems to be mocking the difficult lives of so many famous writers in a way that seeks to encourage others to follow the example, despite the fact that there are a great many amazing writers whose lives were far more honorable than those discussed here.  There is a certain appeal that rogues have to a large audience, and it may seem boring to write novels about those who lived exemplary but confined lives without getting themselves into various kinds of trouble.  The rise of Enlightenment culture and the celebration of the author and creative types in general led quite immediately and possibly predictably to the sort of lamentable lives lived by people who were intensely creative but lacked good moral sense and sound judgment, which may not be necessary to write culturally significant poems or novels or plays but which is of vital importance in living a worthwhile life.  It is not certain that this sort of life deserves to be praised and celebrated as it is here, given the misery such mice spawned.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I thought this book sounded interesting. I was expecting some fun, cheeky stories about the foibles of all the famous authors, some of which I was already familiar with, and more that I figured I hadn't heard. Well, there are plenty of details about the bad behaviour of these famous authors alright, but instead of being intriguing and interesting, I just found the stories depressing, sad and more than a little pathetic. I understand that times were different back then, but the stories I read - che I thought this book sounded interesting. I was expecting some fun, cheeky stories about the foibles of all the famous authors, some of which I was already familiar with, and more that I figured I hadn't heard. Well, there are plenty of details about the bad behaviour of these famous authors alright, but instead of being intriguing and interesting, I just found the stories depressing, sad and more than a little pathetic. I understand that times were different back then, but the stories I read - cherry-picked among the chapters of the authors I was most interested in - were all unrelentingly depressing and sad. It seems none of these authors had a moment of peace or happiness in their entire lives. Perhaps I was just in the wrong frame of mind for this book, but non-stop depressing, downbeat and negative stories just wasn't interesting to me, so I did not read this book in its entirety.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rrlgrrl

    A fun read with all the usual suspects from your classical British and American literature high school class. I liked the inclusion of more modern authors from the 50s to the 80s. Some of the authors I did not recognize, but of the ones cited from the 80s, I remember when they caused a splash in the literary world with their books (Bret Easton Ellis, Elizabeth Wurtzel, for example). The pace and intensity of the bad behavior seemed to increase with each era described in the book, but there defin A fun read with all the usual suspects from your classical British and American literature high school class. I liked the inclusion of more modern authors from the 50s to the 80s. Some of the authors I did not recognize, but of the ones cited from the 80s, I remember when they caused a splash in the literary world with their books (Bret Easton Ellis, Elizabeth Wurtzel, for example). The pace and intensity of the bad behavior seemed to increase with each era described in the book, but there definitely was the common theme of drugs and sex with all the authors and their bad behavior. Certainly the level of drug use increased, and in variety, as you entered into the 20th century.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amber Terry

    I don't know why, but this book was extremely dull for me. It was the writing, definitely not the stories about the sad and reckless lives of some famous authors. Something about the way the author presented these tales just didn't grab me. Also, these are authors that I have read about before so there was a lot of material I was already familiar with which made things even duller. I don't know why, but this book was extremely dull for me. It was the writing, definitely not the stories about the sad and reckless lives of some famous authors. Something about the way the author presented these tales just didn't grab me. Also, these are authors that I have read about before so there was a lot of material I was already familiar with which made things even duller.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Evidently having an addiction, drugs or booze, is the key to being a successful author. At least that's what those included in this book seemed to think. Most of those included are well-known names: Wilde, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thompson, etc. Most of these, but not all, died because of their afflictions. Interesting. Evidently having an addiction, drugs or booze, is the key to being a successful author. At least that's what those included in this book seemed to think. Most of those included are well-known names: Wilde, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Thompson, etc. Most of these, but not all, died because of their afflictions. Interesting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    This book is both entertaining, and rather sad in some ways. While the people profiled did produce great and memorable literature and the book is well-written, I couldn't help but feel for the pain many of them experienced. This book is both entertaining, and rather sad in some ways. While the people profiled did produce great and memorable literature and the book is well-written, I couldn't help but feel for the pain many of them experienced.

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