4 More Brilliant Authors Who Are Also Douchebags
Well, friends and enemies, you apparently loved our original look into the lives of masters of the written word who happened to be somewhat moral sinkholes so much we decided to bring you a second installment. Some of these come from reader suggestions, and some just got left off the list the first time.
We'd like to extend a half-apology to H.P. Lovecraft, who made the first list due to his incredible racism and sexism, even for the era in which he was writing. Yes, other pulp writers were worse, but they were hacks and Lovecraft was a genius. Nonetheless, reader Jonathan Howard passed along this tale in comments:
He does have one thing about him politically that gets him a few brownie points, though; he distrusted the Fascists in the '30s while the great and the good were still fawning over Mussolini and Hitler. Richard Lupoff wrote a fictionalized account called Lovecraft's Book as a thriller, but my understanding of the historical details is that the Fascist sympathizer George Sylvester Viereck approached Lovecraft to write an American Mein Kampf, a call to arms. In return, he would pay for Lovecraft to be published in book form, something that never happened in Lovecraft's life and that Lovecraft dearly wanted. Lovecraft made some enquiries about Fascism amongst his extensive net of correspondents, didn't like what he heard, and turned Viereck down.
And while we're not going to hand Lovecraft any medals for his work towards better understanding between the races anytime soon, that story is actually awesome enough that we would have left him off the list if we'd heard it.
Luckily, we found some even bigger douchebags this time around.
4. F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Why You Should Read Him: Fitzgerald is now widely regarded as a master writer. Brad Pitt just starred in the award-winning Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Baz Luhrman is tackling The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald sums up everything about America's jazz age with a unique style.
Why He's a Douchebag: That style, by the by, belonged almost totally to his wife Zelda. Fitzgerald had a regular habit of lifting whole bits of her conversations and recycling them in his books. Big deal, you say, authors do that all the time. Maybe, but Fitzgerald took it to a whole new level.
When his second novel, the Beautiful and the Damned, came out, the New York Herald Tribune asked Zelda to critique it in their paper. When Zelda did so, she discovered that Fitzgerald had actually lifted whole excerpts from her diary and personal letters.
When a publisher offered to publish her diaries, they being obviously awesome reading, Fitzgerald made her turn the offer down because he needed them for inspiration. Later, when Zelda wrote Save Me the Waltz in an asylum as part of her therapy, Fitzgerald wouldn't let the book be published until he had rewritten the character based on him as less of a raging alcoholic. Which, make no bones about it, he was. Also, he forbade the novel receiving any publicity, and Zelda was so crushed by his criticism of the novel she never finished another. Still, Fitzgerald is a better husband than...
Why You Should Read Him: You probably know Norman Mailer better for being a swollen and badly infected testicle of a man more than you know him for his writing, but don't forget he actually won a Pulitzer for The Executioner's Song, and that The Naked and the Dead may be one of the greatest war novels this side of Catch-22.
Why He's a Douchebag: Well, let's put it this way. There are victims of the Manson Family that didn't get it as hard as Norman Mailer gave it to his second wife, Adele Morales. In addition to punching her in the stomach while she was pregnant and making her participate in orgies, he stabbed her... a lot.
In 1960 he attacked her with a penknife at a party, wounding her back and cutting into her breast until he was within a hair's breadth of her heart. When other party members tried to help her, he told them to "Let the bitch die." Amazingly, Morales refused to press charges and Mailer spent some time in Bellevue Hospital. They divorced, but Mailer somehow managed to get five more women to marry him over the course of his life.
As far as we know he didn't stab any more of his wives, though he did appear on an episode of Gilmore Girls, which makes him also the author we can take the least seriously on this list.
Why You Should Read Him: Naipaul has won more literary awards than we knew existed, including a Nobel Prize for literature. Most of his works deal with British colonialism, with The Mystic Masseur being one of the best.
Why He's a Douchebag: Do you have a vagina? You do? Great! Could you move over into this line? The one labeled "I'll Never Be As Good a Writer as V. S. Naipaul?" Thanks a million, toots.
Naipaul makes no bones about the fact that even someone like Jane Austen stands in his mighty shadow because her sex gave her a narrow view of the world. "Inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too," he said in an interview with the Guardian.
That's not to say he has no use for women. If you're a prostitute, then he has a very specific use for you, not to mention if you're a mistress who doesn't mind him leaving you as soon as you get a little middle-aged.
Why You Should Read Him: The Great Train Robbery is our favorite book of all time, with Congo and Airframe also making it pretty high on our list. Crichton laid down some of the finest science thrillers ever, and we honestly owe him our rediscovered love of literature when we picked up Jurassic Park in middle school after loving the movie.
Why He's a Douchebag: Well, there is the whole global warming denial thing that he helped give momentum to in State of Fear, despite the fact that he distorted scientific findings to try and prove his point and that no matter how many times our governor says different, there is a pretty damn solid scientific consensus on man's impact on climate change. But hey, maybe all the scientists are wrong. They've been wrong before. That's not why Crichton was a douchebag.
What nets him his spot on the list is responding to a literary critic by making him a pedophile. When Michael Crowley criticized Crichton's science in State of Fear, Crichton exacted his revenge by making a minor character in the novel Next into a child rapist with a small dick. Let's read the quote from page 227:
"Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, 30-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers."
Crowley, the real one, was actually pretty cool about the whole thing, accurately remarking that he had questioned an author's research, and the author had responded by questioning the size of his wang and whether or not he put it in a toddler's poop chute. Crowley deduced that he had therefore won, and we second that.
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