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Review from Publishers Weekly, week of November 5, 2012

Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors

by Andrew Shaffer

In this rollicking romp through a gallery of writers whose genius came with a price (alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, and other troubles), Shaffer (Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love) offers a terrific blend of literary history, biography, and witty commentary. With a breezy style full of pithy asides, Shaffer profiles a wide range of writers including the Marquis de Sade, Samuel Coleridge, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Dorothy Parker, Dylan Thomas, Elizabeth Wurtzel, and James Frey, exposing both the exuberant and the dark sides of their notorious lives. Shaffer may playfully acknowledge an early romanticized admiration for his rock star writers and their decadent lifestyles, but he does, emphatically, not the grim aspects of their lives (early death, debilitating depression, crippling drug and alcohol dependency, dysfunctional relationships). The protagonists may have been self-destructive, but their exploits are always wildly entertaining, and their output is all the more miraculous for what they survived. As Shaffer observes, that these writers achieved anything in their addled states is remarkable.