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51 minutes | Nov 1, 2020
Hunter S. Thompson & Everything (Writers Under the Influence S1 Ch6)
Hunter S. Thompson couldn’t get out of his own way. He was the kind of guy who sat at the back of the class clowning around and cracking jokes, who pumped out essays the night before they were due; sometimes he produced a hit, sometimes a dud. His flaw was that he had the talent; he just never really applied himself. Why break a sweat when you can fluke your way through? Why stay sober when readers like what you put out while you’re high? Hunter S. Thompson cultivated an image of rockstar proportions: an eccentric, hyper-masculine, booze-swilling, drug-taking court jester act that he soon found he couldn’t escape from, even when it was harming him. Please visit our website, hollywordpodcast.com to find show notes, including a list of sources used, and more information.
88 minutes | Oct 25, 2020
Jack Kerouac, Philip K. Dick & Amphetamines (Writers Under the Influence S1 Ch5)
Jack Kerouac, author of On the Road, and Philip K. Dick, author of The Man in the High Castle, used amphetamines for their writing the way athletes use performance enhancers. Though already talented, a fistful of these so-called ‘smart’ pills helped both men focus their energies and sharpen their minds, and could keep them powering through legendary typing marathons that lasted weeks. But the pharmacological assistance came at a price. The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. Jack died at 47 and Philip died at 53. Their lives were a mess by the end. They were a pair of broke, unhealthy, multi-divorcees—Jack a grumpy alcoholic living with his mother; Phil a paranoid recluse toeing the line between madman and genius. Neither lived long enough to see how lasting their legacies would come to be. Like a literary James Dean, Jack Kerouac remains a familiar figure, and his books and connection to the Beat Generation are recognisable even to those who don’t read. Philip K. Dick has been dead almost four decades but his grip on western culture holds fast and his influence is detectable almost everywhere you look; those who have never read his books have almost certainly seen one of the many films adapted from his stories. Please visit our website, hollywordpodcast.com to find show notes, including a list of sources used, and more information.
69 minutes | Oct 18, 2020
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey & Opium (Writers Under the Influence S1 Ch4)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas De Quincey are connected by two things: William Wordsworth and opium. Sam met Wordsworth first and together they published The Lyrical Ballads in 1798, which kicked off the Romantic movement and attracted legions of fans. Among them was Thomas De Quincey. He famously tracked down his two idols and insinuated himself into their Lake District clique. Wordsworth was impressed by the much younger Tom, but Sam Coleridge was wary. Perhaps Sam recognised a little too much of himself in Tom. Later, Sam would go on to publish Kubla Khan and Tom would publish Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. Both works are considered the earliest instances of drug literature. But while Tom wrote candidly about his experiences with addiction, Sam only ever alluded to drug use, using metaphors instead of specific references. He preferred to keep the matter of his laudanum dependence private, so he didn't exactly appreciate it when Tom, on the very first page of Confessions, publicly outed him as one of the biggest dope fiends of all. Please visit our website, hollywordpodcast.com to find show notes, including a list of sources used, and more information.
64 minutes | Oct 11, 2020
William S. Burroughs, Hubert Selby Jr. & Heroin (Writers Under the Influence S1 Ch3)
William (Bill) S. Burroughs and Hubert Selby Jr. (A.K.A Cubby) lived improbably long lives, considering the damage they inflicted on their bodies via heroin addiction. As the rest of America gloried in the post-WW2 period of prosperity, comfort and conformity, Bill and Cubby explored the ghettos, underpasses and fringes of society, looking for the forgotten people—those cast off and dismissed as unworthy of the so-called American Dream. They were interested in the stories of the homosexuals, drag queens, sex workers, junkies, drunks and hustlers. Unlike the unlucky rest of us, Bill and Cubby became more relevant and cooler as they got older. Their radical subject matter and writing styles drew in new generations of fans and attracted notable figures from other creative fields; Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain idolised Bill, while Cubby counted among his fans punk personality Henry Rollins and Red Hot Chilli Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis. Please visit our website, hollywordpodcast.com to find show notes, including a list of sources used, and more information.
52 minutes | Oct 4, 2020
Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey & LSD (Writers Under the Influence S1 Ch2)
In this second episode, we’re examining the lives of Allen Ginsberg, author of Howl, and Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. This pair of talented authors rode the countercultural wave of free love, free thought and free expression that started as a swell in the 50s and crashed over America in the 60s and 70s. Allen and Ken crossed paths frequently during this time, brought together by mutual friends such as Jack Kerouac and Timothy Leary, and a mutual appreciation for LSD. Allen led the Beats in their movement to overhaul literature, then passed the revolutionary baton onto Ken, who led the hippies in a push to change the people and the country. Please visit our website, hollywordpodcast.com to find show notes, including a list of sources used, and more information.
59 minutes | Sep 27, 2020
Robert Louis Stevenson, Stephen King & Cocaine (Writers Under the Influence S1 Ch1)
Welcome to the debut episode of Hollyword, a new podcast that explores the lives of history’s greatest story-tellers. Our first season, ‘Writers Under the Influence’, looks at authors whose lives and careers are, in the popular imagination, entangled with their substance addictions. The first episode takes on Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS), author of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Stephen King, author of The Shining. RLS and Stephen are separated by a century, yet their journeys share many parallels. Aside from their very serious cocaine dependencies, both were reductively labelled as writers of penny dreadfuls, and both were phenomenally successful and popular, to the point where their populism affected their critical reputations. RLS and Stephen were dismissed as ‘minor’ authors not worthy of the respect accorded to their contemporaries. Only since the end of the twentieth, start of the twenty-first century have they have been welcomed back into the literary fold and granted the ‘serious writer’ reputations so many fans feel they deserve. Please visit our website, hollywordpodcast.com to find show notes, including a list of sources used, and more information.
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