Photo gallery of famous literary drunks & addicts


Life has a great photo gallery of famous literary drunks and addicts. Rand looks a bit tweaked in this photo.


  1. Well that explains why everything she wrote was a doorstopper.

    Also I love the pic or Capote as a proto-hipster. Gotta love those Nat-Geo red pants.

  2. That was cool, but… Where is Hunter S. Thompson? Or Dorothy Parker? Or Stephen King (in his early days)? If you’re going to do a very short literary slideshow, perhaps “Sober/Abstinent literary figures” would be easier. :)

    1. Thompson, Parker, and King are all in there, eeblet. King’s slide is the one right before Rand’s, even.

  3. Well, the thing that really bothers me about calling Ayn Rand a dangerous lunatic is that it seems like it should be so *unnecessary*.

    And yet, mysteriously, it bears repeating.

  4. Thompson, Parker and King are in there — you have to backtrack from Rand who is in the middle of the gallery.

    Also, I would add Philip K. Dick (speed or various) and Paul Bowles (marijuana/hashish).

  5. I tried read Atlas Shrugged a few times – never could get into it. A very intelligent person suggested I read it – she said Rand’s ideas on society are similar to one of my fave sci fi writers, Robert A. Heinlein. I’ve yet to see anything good about Rand on BB though, so I assume her philosophies aren’t very nice.

    1. Read the wikipedia page for The Fountainhead, and if you’re still interested then read the actual book. Regardless of what her philosophy was, we can all agree that her fiction is not her strong point.

      1. Screw the wiki page, just read The Fountainhead. Its a great book even if it has its slow moments. Like most adults I’m guessing you’ll be able to agree with some of it and disagree with other parts. My theory about why people get so up in arms about it is that it has very loud echoes of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and like most things with any anti semitic overtones it has to get loudly dismissed as completely ridiculous and/or evil. But in between all that is a great read.

        1. Agreed. My mother read the book in one go this past summer, and while she disagreed with certain points in the book, she actually enjoyed it overall. I felt better about liking The Fountainhead after that.

    2. I found The Fountainhead much more readable than Atlas Shrugged. Her books can be quite enjoyable if you skip the philosophy rants and read the dirty sex scenes aloud.

    3. Broadly speaking, both Heinlein and Rand espouse meritocracy. I’d say that the biggest difference is that Heinlein sees merit in service to things outside one’s self. Rand would claim that such a position is actually evil.

    4. for the first 400 pages, Atlas Shrugged was my new favorite book, I loved every moment of it and subscribed fully to what it said about these poor visionaries being bound and hindered from reaching their potential. The next few hundred pages I started to loose sympathy for the “good” characters. Then eventually I started actively disliking the “good” characters and rooting for their demise and failure. By page 1000 I stopped reading.

      The “good” characters were so insufferable, the “bad” characters were more likable… perhaps that was part of her point, to show that the social and charismatic can be/should be less deserving than the unwavering and stubborn. She just could have said that in so many less words! None of the characters had any depth or subtlety, they all were sappy and hysterical, but nevertheless her writing style still had a certain strength to it. I’m sure I’d enjoy the Fountainhead a little more, but I’m a big fan of pragmatism, socializing, community and other things she rages against…

  6. Simon Vinkenoog. Who died last year. But isn’t american or british, so he might as well been from another planet as far as you are concerned.

    But he was the greatest.

    The greatest I tell you.

  7. best thing about ayn rand is what she


    it’s a great comment on her and her ilk…

    she had no spawn… oh too bad… heh.

    all yee rand sycophants can toss away…

  8. I find how people talk about Atlas Shrugged more illuminating than the book itself. Liberals and conservatives focus on such different things, it’s like they are reading different books. Worse, both seem to attribute messages to it that aren’t in the book. It’s like the book is some wacky fun-house mirror.

    I read the book recently because of the attention it’s gotten on BB. Yeah, meth explains a lot. Remarkably, it doesn’t say doing things for others is evil. Or that selfish is good. It’s a fine line, but what it states is that just doing things because society told you to is stupid and selfishness comes in many forms. Not using your mind is evil.

    People make the same point when they jokingly say “Think of the children!”

  9. Polemics with plots that do nothing but further the preaching, with antagonists who’re nothing but cardboard cutouts, and really bad dialog are not (IMNSHO) “great books”. They’re bad books that happen to be fun for a lot of people. It’s like that TV show “Married with Children”. Personally, I’d rather eat spam with American cheese than watch that show, but lots of people love it. It’s still crap as far as I’m concerned, but it’s popular crap.

    As far as books go, I like plenty of badly written books. It’s OK to like badly written books. They’re frequently popular books, even. But don’t I pretend they’re well written. Just fun. Fun is under-rated. I know of plenty of well written books that aren’t fun. If you find Rand’s fiction fun, more power to you. But it’s not well written by any standard of criticism for fiction writing.

    1. Without arguing directly with jjasper’s characterization, I’ll just say that there are many very literate people who completely disagree with it. Also many who agree with it, its kind of the stock criticism of Ayn Rand.

  10. I loved the gallery.Did not consider Louisa May Alcott an addict ,I nominate Carson McCullers, a worthy addition.

  11. So the first thing I thought when I saw the photo (having already gone through the slideshow from another source) was that 1/3 to 1/2 of the 23 comments would be about Rand, with no mention of any of the other writers represented. Congratulations, BB, on exceeding my expectations once again.

  12. I never cared for Rand’s books, politics or no, I just found them tiring and offering very little but insight into her personality some what (illusory perhaps). If it is any consolation I have hated lots of great books though. Lots of Hemingway (but I suppose I’m not *supposed* to like it since I suppose it is meant to reclaim literature from men who are not manly enough, then again I am *supposed* to like it if I’m intelligent. Oh paradox!), Last of the Mohicans, Invisible Cities… the list goes on. In fact most “great literature” has seemed like complete shit to me. I’m sure it’s great to somebody.

    I guess that is my roundabout defense of Rand. Her stories seem like shallow devices to allow her to make her point less directly. Which makes her a huge majority of the authors considered “great” from my limited experience.

  13. ah…the good doctor. i miss him, but wish him well.

    i always thought atlas shrugged would make a cool graphic novel. and, “I do not recognize this court’s right to try me,” is classic.

  14. When I read “The Fountainhead” my impression (having recognized the various characters in it) was that it was a rape fantasy about Frank Lloyd White. Reading the rest of her works and learning a little about her life has not disabused me of this notion.

  15. my favorite thing about all the pictures was hunter s. thompson’s quote: “i wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs, or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

    also: did anybody else HAVE to read “anthem” in 9th grade, or was that just me?

  16. Did anyone actually click through the “bit tweaked” link to the Ayn Rand Biographical FAQ? From that source, it doesn’t sound like she was really a speed addict. That said, I still strongly dislike her philosophy.

  17. The funny thing is, if Ayn Rand were still alive her philosophy permits her to not give a damn about any of your opinions of her writings, live decisions and philosophy. That’s because she promotes freedom.

    That being said I have to respectfully disagree with your assessments of her novels. This does not mean that I do not think that you aren’t free to express your opinions, only that I have the right to disagree.

  18. Is anyone else having trouble actually seeing anything but this picture of Rand without the Speed caption or any other information at all for that matter?

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