Literary Advice for 8 Drunken Mistakes

by Laura Creste
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Writers have long held reputations for being heavy drinkers — a stereotype that’s not entirely undeserved. (Thank you, Hemingway and Fitzgerald — and that's just a start.) While I admire the early-to-bed-early-to-rise kind of writer, I doubt I will ever be that person. The opportunities for getting drinks after a lit class or poetry readings held in bars are too great to be resisted. Plus, introverted, bookish types tend to need liquid courage to socialize, which is great until you overdo it and kind of want to die the next day.

But take heart! Words of wisdom from these writers will get you through your darkest hour, whether you’re nursing an epic hangover or reading through texts you almost remember sending. Although these quotes might not be applied in the exact spirit in which they were intended, I like to think my favorite writers are reaching across time and space to say, It’s all right; last night’s mistakes, too, shall pass.

Behold, literary advice for some common morning ailments:

When you wake up with glitter in your hair and mysterious bruises

“Don’t brood over how you may have behaved last night. If you / Can’t remember that much about it, don’t ask anyone else about it / Except a little, in case you were wonderful in your abandon.”

—Alice Notley, “The Prophet”

When you overdo it at happy hour with your coworkers

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“There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends.”

—Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

When you regret the stopping at the taco truck at 4 a.m.

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“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats, and if some of these can be inexpensive and quickly procured so much the better.”

—Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea

When you relapse into sex with your ex

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“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

—Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

When you feel guilty about your funemployment and the subsequent irresponsible, late nights that come with it

“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives... and to the 'good life', whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.”

—Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman

When you wake up with a metaphysical hangover

“When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you, start telling yourself that what you have is a hangover. You are not sickening for anything, you have not suffered a minor brain lesion, you are not all that bad at your job, your family and friends are not leagued in a conspiracy of barely maintained silence about what a shit you are, you have not come at last to see life as it really is.”

—Kingsley Amis

When you’re eating ibuprofen like they’re m&ms and want to die, but at least got a good anecdote out of the evening

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“Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.”


When you force yourself to look through your drunk texts

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”

—Marcel Proust, À la recherché du temps perdu