I enjoy reading. It's one of the things that I have always enjoyed, from childhood through adulthood. Many of the modern writers that are considered creative geniuses were alcoholic. Take for instance Sinclair Lewis, Hart Crane, Eugene O'Neill, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway: All were alcoholic. Sinclair Lewis once asked, ''Can you name five American writers since Poe who did not die of alcoholism?''
There are about thirty writers who were seriously knocked around by drink, and seven or eight killed by it. One of the interesting semi-autobiographical novels about alcoholism was written by Jack London. In John Barleycorn, he writes: "I achieved a condition in which my body was never free from alcohol. Nor did I permit myself to be away from alcohol. If I traveled to out-of-the-way places, I declined to run the risk of finding them dry. I took a quart, or several quarts, along in my grip. I was carrying a beautiful alcoholic conflagration around with me. The thing fed on its own heat and flamed the fiercer. There was no time in all my waking time, that I didn't want a drink."
London also writes about the hopelessness of his drinking: "I have decided coolly and deliberately that I shall continue to do what I have been trained to want to do: I will drink--but oh, more skillfully, more discreetly, than ever before." For the next three years he tried to do that. He decided to go on drinking because he decided he had a right to; that this right derived from his having "been trained to want to."
Jack London rationalized his drinking. He thought that the problem was totally one driven by a "habit of mind". His need was mental and social: "When I thought of alcohol, the connotation was fellowship. When I thought of fellowship, the connotation was alcohol. Fellowship and alcohol were Siamese twins. They always occurred linked together."
He tried to drink "more skillfully" and perhaps for a while his attempt at controlled drinking may have seemed to work. But Jack London was almost as consumed with his drinking problem as he was with the drink itself. Eventually though, drinking got the best of him.
For him, there was no 12 step program. The book John Barleycorn tells 'what it was like'. But there was no 'what happened, and what it is like now.' He became comatose early in the morning of November 16, 1916. By seven that evening he was dead. His death was from a lethal dose of morphine sulphate with complications from uremia and kidney failure. Jack London was just forty and world-famous. The book is a chilling portrait of what alcoholism did to London.