Writers Between the Covers — and Beneath the Veneer

Are you a nonfiction reader? Then Anthony at the Cascade Township branch has a book recommendation for you.

indexCA1IIX5MOnce you realize that Fifty Shades of Grey is not a book about interior decorating, it makes one wonder, how do writers come up with this stuff? Is it based in experience or pure creative writing? Isn’t this the realm of cheap romance novels and something to be avoided by a “great” writer? Aren’t great writers supposed to be separate from the romance writers who seem like movie porn stars, never able to cross over into “respectable” literature?

Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon say that while researching a previous book about some of the great writers of both distant and recent history, “we repeatedly found ourselves sidetracked by the ‘love’ aspect. Intriguing and surprising details emerged about their unorthodox and salacious behavior….” It led them to tell all in Writers Between the Covers, the Scandalous Romantic Lives of Legendary Literary Casanovas, Coquettes, and Cads.

Long before the days of cell phones, blogging, Facebook and YouTube, letters were the main form of communicating. Undoubtedly, one’s private and public life were more easily separated but, like today, “scandals” occurred when private life became public. Still, Schmidt and Rendon claim writers “got away with unsavory behavior because, after all, they were artists. And aren’t artists supposed to be bohemian, mysterious and unpredictable?”

They provide example after example of how indeed a writer’s personal life was a base of inspiration for literary work. “Gertrude Stein only became famous after channeling the voice of her longtime love, Alice B. Toklas.… Others used the humble letter to fill the void in the days before phone sex and Internet porn…” It is those events, “often documented in titillating detail in the writer’s own hand,” that fill the pages of this entertaining book. One can only guess at what that says about current popular writers. In any case, this is guaranteed to keep the blood flowing on a cold winter night.


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