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Writers Gone Wild: The Feuds, Frolics, and Follies of Literature's Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lo vers, Iconoclasts, and Misanthropes Paperback – November 2, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bill Peschel is a lifelong reader whose five thousand-book library keeps his home in Hershey, Pennsylvania, firmly anchored to the earth. When not collecting weird and wild stories, he edits news articles and designs pages at the Harrisburg Patriot-News. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Books; Original edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399536183
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399536182
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Peschel is a recovering journalist who shares a Pulitzer Prize with the staff of The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. He also is a mystery fan who has run the Wimsey Annotations at Planet Peschel for nearly two decades. He is the author of "Writers Gone Wild" (Penguin).

Through Peschel Press he publishes Sherlock parodies and pastiches in the 223B Casebook series and annotated editions of Dorothy L. Sayers' "Whose Body?" and Agatha Christie's "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" and "The Secret Adversary."

Bill has also developed a sideline as a lecturer, talking about Agatha Christie's 11-day disappearance and the development of Sherlock Holmes. He narrated the story behind Christie's disappearance on TravelTV's "Mysteries at the Museum" show.

An interest in Victorian crime led to the republication of three books on the William Palmer case. He lives with his family, dog and two cats in Hershey, where the air really does smell like chocolate.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Deb Salisbury on November 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
Writers Gone Wild is a brilliant collection of short anecdotes about writers and their odder moments. Funny, astonishing, and occasionally sad, this book lays bare parts of many famous writers' lives. Highly recommended, especially if you only have brief moments to read at one time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By arielkprice on August 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Writers Gone Wild reveals all of the dirty secrets of the authors we know and love so well. As author Bill Peschel blatantly admits, it's gossip. These stories do give us more complete views of the lives from which some of our best-loved literature arose. But let's be honest. "They're great fun to read."
I'll just give you a taste of the mishaps our authors got into:

When Voltaire was beaten, his friend just said, "You are a poet and you have been beaten. This is the order of things." Ain't that the truth.
Stuart Little was banned from the New York Public Library for "interspecies miscegenation." Upton Sinclair published an obituary for one of his characters to gain public attention. See, even back then authors had to market themselves. William Faulkner worked at the post office and would go through people's mail, throwing away what he thought they didn't need and keeping the magazines for himself. Virginia Woolf dressed up as an Abyssinian prince and fooled the British Royal Navy.

Honestly, most of these stories will make you laugh. Some are disgusting. I have a lot less respect for Ernest Hemingway and a few others. Some authors are examples of how very thin the line can be between genius and madness. I felt sorry for these and several authors, whose talent went unnoticed or ignored, or whose great writing arose from great personal struggle.

I really enjoyed this collection because it does give us a more realistic picture of some of these authors. In a way, it's nice to know that they had to deal with life just as we do. Some caved under the pressure, but others channeled their experiences into their work.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By sundowner2 on July 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
When I started to read this book, I was hoping for some of the "Feuds, Frolics and Follies" the author promised in the description. What I found instead was that the book was full of half truths laid out in a way either to make the "cast" the butt of a joke, or else in a condensending, judgmental way. A few examples:

Mary Shelly, how she "was not" invited to Percy Shelly's funeral. Well, that's because women wern't allowed to attend funeral at that time. Elizabeth Riddel, having died of laudnum poisoning? Yes, she did, but she committed sucicide because her husband had had such a long string of lovers, had failed repeatedly upon his promises to finish paintings and help provide income (for which she was almost entirely responsible for providing). Oscar Wilde, visiting a brotel, then coming out and saying it was like cold mutton, and was the first, and last time in ten years, the author makes this out as though he's a freak for saying that, and tells the whole story in such a poor light, but neglects to mention that Oscar Wilde had recently been released from hard labor after protecting his lover from a scandal, and it had ruined his health to the point of near death. He was also suffering from the loss of his wife and children, who left him while he was in prison, and had been seperated (for his own good) from the lover who caused his early death. Where is the sympathy for that man? I feel like that was a horrible story to have in the book.

Most of the stories were about drunk writers, or drugged up writers, and as I said, full of half truths and a tone to paint every charachter in a poor light, depending on the author's desire. It's a shame, had I known, I wouldn't have wasted my money on this. too bad I can't take it back.

If you want the truth, read biographies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brent Butler TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
Over the last couple of days I've been sampling this book, which is reading it as the author intended. It's not a cover to cover read. Interesting stories are presented which strip the respectable veneer from a large number of successful and generally well regarded authors. From Voltaire's sometimes petulant/sometimes obsequious relationships with monarchs to Samuel Clemens unintentionally insulting the great writers of his day en masse, you'll find eye opening, informative, and amusing stories throughout.

For as far back as (and for who) we have records of their lives, authors have generally been a rowdy, conniving, unbalanced lot. They had to milk benefactors, fight editors and censors, deal with their inner demons, and still insure that the public thought well enough of them to read them. In many cases, their inner demons were the very inspirations for their interesting and ground-breaking work. They were also the cause of their more outlandish and at times inexplicable real life episodes.

In most cases the vignettes I've read in this book don't go into the psychological detail to fully integrate from psychosis to behavior to written word, but if you also know something about these authors from other reading, you can often connect the dots yourself. That's just a fun game to play as you read the entries contained herein though. Each one contains enough essential background to lay a foundation for what is to come, then provides one or more anecdotes and observations of interest.

Peschel's style is warm and witty, as if a learned, well spoken, and charming friend were recounting the juiciest recent gossip over cocktails on the terrace.

Highly recommended.
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Writers Gone Wild: The Feuds, Frolics, and Follies of Literature's Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lo vers, Iconoclasts, and Misanthropes
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