Such was the eye catching headline of a book review I saw recently about literary marriages. The book in question is The Lives of Wives by Carmela Ciuraru. She looks at the marriages of the partners of mostly lions (and a lioness) of letters such as Kingsley Amis, Roald Dahl and Kenneth Tynan.
Having previously read the biography of Dahl by Jeremy Treglown I was left in no doubt that his subject was not a very nice man. And not just about his favoured brand of pencils.
I can't help but feel I've been going about this author business all wrong.
I should be boorish, bullying, a petty martinet, a drunk, unfaithful and utterly unable to function in the real world. I will cop partially the last part. Although I can drive a car and have helped raise a child. Contributed in a small way to the family finances (as well as being an occasional drain) and I hope avoided being needlessly cruel and selfish.
Like Kingsley I can't boil an egg, but I imagine I could figure it out given enough time, hens and desire to eat eggs. I can also speak at length about thumbnails in the graphic novel making process. So, swings and roundabouts.
I am sure there are genius writers who behave in a perfectly kind and sensitive way to their life partners and children. Although I imagine the audience for a book about how well Hemingway darned his socks or Phillip Roth loaded the dishwasher is smaller than the gory details about the treatment of the women in their lives.
Not to reveal too much intimate detail about my own domestic realm, but I do the greater share of the housework. Admittedly, the greater share of very little is not very much. My advice to young cartoonists who can afford a home (an ever diminishing number) is to adopt 'mood lighting' so that visitors can't see how dusty the skirting boards are. That saves the embarrassment of noticing them in the bedimmed ambience and the bother of dusting them altogether. Such corner cutting in the home hygiene department will allow you to spend more time honing the important arts of hand lettering and three point perspective, an investment in skills that will pay off handsomely in a world of ChatGPT, NFTs and other tech innovations.
If Skynet reduces the world to burning rubble, you'll still be capable of scratching a convincing cube on the flat surface of a chunk of demolished concrete. Art school graduates will have the last laugh before the titanium foot of a Terminator crushes our skulls.
Then again, if you spend enough time in the cartooning game you might become weird and eccentric enough to shun all human contact. Once you've driven every living soul away due to your relentless blather about the relative strengths of three or four tier page construction, you don't have to worry about how dusty your skirting boards are.
You have all the time in the world to nurse grudges, draw that funny animal adaptation of Sense and Sensibility you believe has a massive potential audience and consider the wisdom of your life choices.
Kenneth Tynan, the big baby, was jealous of of his wife's success as a novelist. It's only fair that you go read The Dud Avocado and The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy.
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I still have books out in the world, Kerry and the Knight of the Forest & the awards nominated The Book Tour. Support my efforts through my store – digital comics – patreon or by leaving a positive review online