By Steve Weddle
The Trip to Echo Spring from Olivia Laing is an amazing book.
I was impressed with one of the early stories in the book, about how John Cheever and Raymond Carver tried to drink themselves to death when they were in Iowa.
What's so wonderful about this book is how it looks rather dispassionately at times at the drinking of authors, the impending and debilitating alcoholism. And, yet, how the book works in its own, "passion" isn't the right word, but feeling or caring -- rather, a connection to these writers, to the booze that holds them together and tears them apart.
The anecdotes are lovely, the sort of hilarious, terrible stories you're likely to share at, well, at cocktail parties or whatever it is you people do. Laing works in her own story, to a certain degree, which helps explain her fascination with the topic.
The subject matter is heavy, of course, and this book feels expansive and personal, an odd mix that works.
What lingers is the complexity of the problems that dominated these authors’ life and work, and how hard it is precisely to place alcohol in that emotional matrix, even if its physical effects became devastatingly clear. -- NYTimes