The Trip to Echo Springs: On Writers and Drinking

Picador. Dec. 2013. 352p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781250039569. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250039583. LIT
OrangeReviewStarLondon-based Laing (To the River) takes us on a trip across the United States in this unique collection of literary biographies, stopping and observing locations relevant to the lives of the authors she is investigating. Ambitiously immersed in the careers of six revered and often idolized writers, including novelist John Cheever (The Stories of John Cheever) and short story writer Raymond Carver (What We Talk About When We Talk About Love), Laing uses the authors' alcohol addiction as the linchpin that unifies their strange connectedness to one another. Laing, who grew up in an alcoholic family herself, mixes into her study an intimate and knowledgeable understanding of the chemistry of alcohol, its impact on one's thinking, and the mystique of its side effects. The culmination is a brightened awareness not only of the lives of the writers discussed but of their works, relationships, and worldviews.
VERDICT A funny, tragic, and insightful journey for anyone who has read F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender Is the Night), Ernest Hemingway (In Our Time), Tennessee Williams (The Glass Menagerie), or John Berryman (The Dream Songs); prepare to be smitten with this fresh offering. Those unfamiliar with these writers will want to read their works. [See Prepub Alert, 7/22/13.]
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing