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Literary meltdowns

This past Sunday night, I went to a concert and witnessed something I hadn’t seen in a long time—a genuine, on-stage, rock-star meltdown by Brian Fallon, the lead singer of The Gaslight Anthem. You can read all the particulars here, but suffice it to say, it was genuinely weird, uncomfortable, irritating… and yet perversely memorable.

Anyway, back at my desk here in Book Land, I started thinking about comparable literary meltdowns. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an author completely lose it on stage—maybe not since college, when I saw Noam Chomsky go bananas when too many students asked him about the Middle East. But of course, the history of the written word is littered with tantrums, explosions, and even a gunshot or two. (That’ll teach you to mess with Hunter S. Thompson!)

So, let’s have some fun—when was the last time YOU saw an author really lose it? Or, if you’ve never seen one in person, what’s your favorite meltdown story? And after witnessing/reading about said meltdown, did it enhance the author or diminish in your eyes?

2 Responses to Literary meltdowns

  1. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    I’ll see your Gaslight Anthem and raise you one Who performance at the Isle Of Wight festival in 1970… Our lads were blasting along in their usual warp 7 style (all you modern day sorta-rockers might want to make note that most of your serious velociraptor guitarists from back in the day only used one or two floor pedals for three times the sound) and at the climax of the concert Peter Townshend’s fuzz box and amp feeds blew out and the concert abruptly ended after one last, dying power chord. Pete slammed his Gibson SG to the stage and stormed offstage, knocking a drunken Jim Morrison out of the way in the wings. Unfortunately, the film version of this concert of this has been spliced to look like everything was hunky-dory, although it was one of the great rock moments of history. I believe you can still get the uncompressed complete concert on CD. That last dying chord (as well as the sputtering fail before ) is somehting to hear. Literary meltdowns? Truman Capote, Stephen King before intervention, take your pick. (although frankly Stevie did some of his best stuff while wacked out of his mind, so whatever)

  2. D. C. DaCosta says:

    Only reason I can see for an author to “lose it” is when he realizes that he’s on the verge of being “FOUND OUT” — that he’s only a writer and not actually an expert on the subject of his book.

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