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Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Bad Boy Writer

     The literary bad boy lives today--in the mind of the writer. He is a legend only, a creature of folk memory. Which isn't to say that there aren't plenty of traditionally chaotic real-life writers out there, crashing about and appalling their spouses [Norman Mailer knifed one of his wives]. What's changed, for us, is that the media is no longer interested.

     We have bad-boy chefs (Bourdain, Ramsay), bad-boy comedians (Russell Brand), bad-boy athletes (the demonic Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suarez). And it's possible, I suppose, that some young word-slinger could come along and wring a new twist from the tired repertoire of writerly naughtiness--be a postmodern literary bad boy. But in the end, who cares? Drink, divorce, insanity, firearms: all beside the point. The work is what counts. [If you like bad boy writers, try Charles Bukowski.]

James Parker, "What's Become of the So-Called Literary Bad Boy?" The New York Times, February 18, 2014

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