Writer’s Desk: Amuse Yourself First

A writer without an audience is an unhappy writer. But a writer who writes just for that audience will not always be any more satisfied. The great satirist Kingsley Amis (Lucky Jim) explained why to The Paris Review:

I read somewhere recently somebody saying, “When I want to read a book, I write one.” I think that’s very good. It puts its finger on it, because there are never enough books of the kind one likes: one adds to the stock for one’s own entertainment…

The Art of Drinking and Writing: Amis / Hitchens Edition

everydaydrinking1A couple items of note from Christopher Buckley’s essay on “Booze as Muse” … and other temptations and illusions of the lit’ry kind, in which he quotes from his departed friend Christopher Buckley’s introduction to Kingsley Amis’s deathless book, Everyday Drinking:

…the “Muse of Booze,” as Christopher Hitchens calls Mr. Amis … gives us recipes for Paul Fussell’s Milk Punch (“to be drunk immediately on rising, in lieu of eating breakfast”) and Evelyn Waugh’s Noonday Reviver (“1 hefty shot gin, 1 bottle Guinness, ginger beer … I should think two doses is the limit”).


[Hitchens] and I once had a weekday lunch that began at 1 p.m. and ended at 11:30 p.m. I spent the next three weeks begging to be euthanized; he went home and wrote a dissertation on Orwell. Christopher himself was a muse of booze, though dipsography and fancy cocktails were not his thing. Christopher was a straightforward whiskey and martini man…

“Alcohol makes other people less tedious,” he writes, “and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing.”