What Have Female Writers Died From? Answer: Everything (X-Posted)

This post was originally published on my new blog, Girl with a Gallery. Drunk Literature will be expiring in 2 weeks, so be sure to update your bookmarks!


Carolina, Eclipse by James Gortnter (via Fernando Luis Alvarez Gallery)

Carolina, Eclipse by James Gortnter (via Fernando Luis Alvarez Gallery)

The Toast put out a short list of the myriad of ways female characters in some of literature’s most well-known books have met their demise. From cold hands to flirting headaches to “The Unpleasantness,” the instruments of death run the gamut. And it made me think… haven’t female authors had a tough go of it as well?

I started to research some of my favorites, and learned both the devastating and mundane ways in which these beloved writers have met Their End. Happy October, folks, because this post is a morbid one.

Deaths of Female Writers

  • Sylvia Plath: suicide (stuck head in gas oven)
  • Anne Sexton: suicide (by carbon monoxide poisoning – car running in a garage)
  • Elizabeth Bowen: lung cancer
  • Kate Chopin: brain hemorrhage at the World’s Fair
  • Djuna Barnes: old age
  • Zelda Fitzgerald: fire at the sanatorium she was interned in, Zelda was locked in room awaiting electroshock therapy and couldn’t get out
  • Virginia Woolf: suicide (filled pockets with stones and drowned self)
  • Simone de Beauvoir: pneumonia
  • Louisa May Alcott: stroke
  • George Eliot: throat infection/kidney disease (not long after her much-younger husband tried, but failed, to kill himself during their honeymoon)
  • Helene Hanff: diabetes
  • Christine de Pizan: unknown

Each of these women lived fascinating, terrible, celebratory, and complicated lives. In death, they experienced much the same. Memorialize who I’ve left out in the comments!


This Blog is MOVING!

Hi folks, fans,  loyal readers, random internet browsers… mom. A little note: update your bookmarks, as in several weeks the Drunk Literature blog will be no more. INSTEAD, I’ll be blogging at Girl With A Gallery. I’ll still talk books, a bit more about the art industry, and updates on life in general.

Why, you may ask? After 6 years, I’m just not feeling the “Drunk Literature” name anymore. Now edging into my thirties with a babe on my arm, the idea of getting rip-roaring plastered and critiquing literature just doesn’t do it for me. Nor does focusing on writers who battled their demons with a bottle. It’s just not my scene.

I have, however, begun the exhausting process of transferring over all of my DL archives to the new blog – so that’s at least something!

It’s been a fun run, but, like my overalls, The Healing Garden body spray, and neon high tops, I’ve outgrown this. Hopefully another recent grad will pick up the URL and make silliness of themselves in the name of literature.

Onwards and upwards!

So, You Want to Work in the Arts?: The Art Business is a Business


This short post is both a reminder for myself and others. I think there is this misconception that, because I work at a gallery, I don’t really “work.” People seem consistently surprised when I mention that I spent and afternoon entering costs into Quickbooks or creating spreadsheets to measure the efficacy of marketing campaigns. They look at me with wonderment, as if the idea that I don’t sit around in studios all day sipping Chardonnay with posh artists is such a wild deviation from their vision of the gallery business.

And I’ve encountered this bias at many levels: from parents who say, “Well, your brother work works,” to interns who don’t take the job seriously, to accountants who don’t take me seriously, to friendly neighbors who ponder from their stoops what I could possibly be doing all day!

Art is a business. That business is art. Art, like any other business, has a lot of day-to-day muck that is boring and tedious and not all that exciting. We, the galleries, do the business so that our artists don’t have to. We sell and pitch and market and mend so that the artists can create and network and develop meaningful, creative relationships. We have regulations and laws and taxes just like any other business. We have commitments to landlords and open hours and staff to pay. It takes long hours of hard, competitive work. It’s a tough business to be in. But when done well and with passion, it is glorious.

If you’re just getting into the business (or thinking about it), you need to think like an MBA not an MFA. Just a little PSA from me to you.

Cleaning Life’s Nooks and Crannies: Old Emails


I am a hoarder by nature. I keep things “just in case.” I have 12 half used toothpaste tubes (because you never know when you might need them!), ticket stubs from the first movie I saw on my own after a major post-college breakup, every scrap of paper Chloe has scribbled on in the first 2 years of her life, and that ugly white purse I will never, ever, ever use but kept because it was the second-to-last thing my Nana gave me.

I can attach sentimental meaning to virtually anything. Especially emails.

I have saved almost every single email ever sent to me in the last 10 years. This has led to a Gmail Inbox full-to-bursting with quarter-life-crises and mundane debates on the subject of bangs. But it’s also encapsulated the moments when my best friends *knew* they’d found their soul mate. Or when my own relationship turned from a casual “ya know, we’re seeing each other” to “I love you.”

For a digital generation, email has become our hope chest (Tweet this!). Our collection of memories, anguishes, feelings, thoughts. It has the added benefit of preserving other’s commentary and quirks. But, like our mothers’ wooden versions that hold their wedding dresses and locks of children’s hair, sometimes that hope chest needs a good, old-fashioned clean out.

I started the process by reading Jillee’s “10 Tips for Decluttering Your Digital Life,” a useful basic guide that goes over every part of your computer and streamlines your organization (though not 100% sure I’m ready to jump on her “don’t organize your documents” train). The idea of labeling was lost on me, but in order to better start organizing there was a lot to get rid of first.

This is what I deleted and what I kept:


  • Saved tips from training blogs and fitness sites, back from when I was a “runner” for a year
  • Recipes that I never cooked
  • Vague and flirty conversations with pseudo-boyfriends long since moved on and with boys who fell in that perplexing “other” category
  • Gossipy exchanges with friends over celebrity culture and that girl we couldn’t stand (*cringe*)
  • Photos from ski weekends I missed out on
  • Random science facts (because… why?)
  • Old roommate emails detailing bills due and shared purchases
  • Work emails with details of aborted projects or long-since finished presentation edits/design ideas/communication plans
  • Anything that documents a “dark” period of my life (no more bad juju)


  • Email chains with my best friends that detail the minutiae of our lives, but also shows how we’ve grown together
  • Mom’s words of wisdom (you never know when you’ll need them)
  • Book, restaurant, and music recommendations
  • Donation, ATM, and credit card payment confirmations (hello, taxes)
  • All other work emails

It was a total catharsis. And an energy shift. There was a lot of baggage I was holding onto in that Inbox. Even if I hadn’t read the emails in years, they were still in there, taking up space. Ex-boyfriends, jobs not granted, Recession-era lamentations about money… they all went in the Trash. Because as much as I want to believe that in a few years I’ll laugh as I read that rambling email I wrote to a love interest at 3AM in 2009 (trying to sound totally casual… nice, Becca), it really is just a reminder of how awkward and unprepared I was at that age. Now that I’ve entered my 30’s, it’s time for a clean slate, both emotionally and virtually.

Have any tips or stories about decluttering your digital life? Please share!

March Reads


  1. The Girl with the Gallery by Lindsay Pollock. I spotted this book for three years straight at a used bookstore in the boonies of Vermont. Finally, last year, I purchased it. Pollock penned this biography of Edith Gregor Halpert who, at 26 years old, opened one of the first galleries in Greenwich Village. She is one of the “forgotten” women who changed the modern art market, and I’m excited to learn her story and fantasize about the golden years of being a gallerist.
  2. Transformations by Anne Sexton. Sexton reimagines 15 Grimm’s fairy tales. While I’ve read passages and pieces, I’ve never read the poems in their entirety, in order. Now’s the chance.
  3. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne with Lisa M. Ross. As a former employee of a (wonderful) parenting book company, I am notoriously wary of parenting books. This book, however, celebrates all the things you don’t need to be a good parent, and reminds us how to live a simple and mindful existence that will benefit our children in the long run. I’m excited for it.
  4. Great House by Nicole Krauss. Started last month, I’m only about halfway through (I blame one too many binge-listening sessions to RadioLab). Time to get back to reading.

Aspirational Additions:

  1.  Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. A re-read of this classic has been calling out to me every time I pass over it on my shelf. Perhaps I’ll pull it down on a Sunday afternoon.
  2. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman. I’ve stopped and started this book a few times, but can’t find enough interest to finish it. Perhaps March is the month.
  3. The New Yorker. I can’t freaking believe I’m still working on my pile of these (pile as in less than a dozen). I told myself I couldn’t order a subscription to the magazine until I finished all of the New Yorkers I’d already purchased. And, if I don’t finish them within 3 weeks, then no subscription for me. Clock’s ticking.

Nicole Krauss on Writing and Motherhood


From an interview with the Guardian (February 12, 2011):

“There was a moment, quite a long moment, after my son was born when I wondered whether my ambition would return to me. I remember saying to my mom: my inner life has gone. But eventually, it flowed back, and when it did, I was surprised how much depth of feeling flooded into the work. Everything… trembled. And now, I’m so grateful for my inner life; it’s almost visceral, when I’m working and alone.” She smiles. “I take real pleasure in thinking.”

Nicole Krauss possesses a particular talent for words that inspires both lust and envy (perhaps the two most conjoined of the Sins). Sometimes, you forget that the writer is another human, feeling and experiencing some of the same, very-human things that we do. So, when looking at reviews and interviews concerning Great House (my current read), I stumbled upon the above quote and it reminded me that even a writer I revere can have that moment of self-doubt when stepping over the threshold of motherhood. And, at the same time, can come out of it victorious.