“That's the problem with drinking, I thought, as I poured myself a drink. If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.”
Above is a quote from Charles Bukowski, taken from his novel Women. As a drinker, I think this quote it portrayed accurately. Sure not everyone one wants or needs a drink, but in the case of Wonder Boys' Grady Tripp, he definitely makes life appear to be a bit boring without a drink. Michael Chabon shows us a writing lifestyle that may be cliché to some, but is in fact real to others. No, not every writer has a sex addiction, drug habit, or drinking problem, but like any community of people, there are always a few. With these problems hidden or not, they are there.
Chabon creates this lifestyle for Grady Tripp that is quite reckless. Tripp's life is loaded with drinking, drugs, sexual affairs, and a couple of dead animals even come into play. Quite a wild ride really. This all sounds like a great party and I'm sure it is for those who live this way. Chabon is really not that far off from a certain writing lifestyle that he portrays. It is not exactly your typical writing lifestyle, at least not in the era we are in today, but yes, there have been and will be more outlaw type writers. The Grady Tripp writing lifestyle definitely seems to be a dying breed, but I am positive that there are great writers out there with these issues that just haven't been noticed yet.
If you look back in history we have many writers with these hectic lifestyles. For example from the quote up top, Charles Bukowski, who is recognized as a writer with issues similar to Grady Tripp’s. Not only do we see Bukowski, but also Hemmingway, the Fitzgerald’s, Hunter S. Thompson, Cheever, Kerouac, and Poe who have lived a similar lifestyle to Tripp. Is this a good thing? Who’s to say, we all have our issues, and I must admit, I feel I do some of my best writing while buzzed off the bottle of rum sitting by my side. I wouldn't classify myself as an alcoholic, but like these people, and the above quote, I like to have a good time, an interesting time, and make sure it happens. So yes Grady Tripp does represent a realistic group of writers, but you can say that about Darby Crash and musicians, along with all larger groups of people.
This lifestyle doesn't seem to be holding up its reputation any longer lately. It seemed to be a bigger issue, back in the 19th century, and has slowly reduced itself. I'm not saying you will no longer see a writer with the wild lifestyle of Tripp, but if you look at the past and of a timeline of alcoholic/drug abusing writers, the breed is thinning out. Will this change? Maybe, I can't see into the future, but you can always go ask your local palm reader, maybe she'll have some better insight on this. Do I hope we get some more problematic writers in our time now and ahead? Of course I do, they are some of my favourite to read. I heard Hunter S. Thompson’s voice before ever actually hearing it, he just comes across as real as the man that he is so you can't miss it.
Like all drunks or people half in the bag, we become more open to our emotions, and more true to ourselves, and our beliefs. As a writer, who is writing, I think this is great. Honesty works best, in all manners. Nobody wants to read some bullshit that you have half assed just to write something. They want to read it and feel like you the writer, also felt the power through their own words. The breed is dying however it is not to be faded out. Besides the words a writer has written down to remind us of their genius literary skills, we also have new works such as Californication, who rather than Tripp we have Hank Moody, who plays as an alcoholic, drug abusing, womanizer. Sounds like a pretty reckless guy, but at the end of the day he’s got talent, and a big heart. Through watching shows/movies like this, and reading on these outlaw type writers, I get the feeling of envy, which is nice, it’s the kind of writer I like to read about.
Overall, Michael Chabon's book Wonderboys provides us with a writing lifestyle that many would look at as faulty, but it is a realistic lifestyle. Maybe not now, or any time soon, but it was a lifestyle many writers led, and I think it was a damn fine lifestyle. It shouldn't be looked down on, there are political workers with these issues too, but they don't get noticed as often. These problematic ways make for great stories to tell, and are rarely forgotten.