Spouses and the Creative People They Marry

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Writers love writing about other writers’s wives. The spouse of a creative person has recently become a popular subject to novelize. But this fad is just a cheap trick, says Sarah Weinman in New Republic, that frees authors from the biographic reality of their subjects and eliminates the ordinary drudgery involved in writing a book. And it isn’t always enough to salvage a story:

The appeal of these spousal tales is in their attempted elevation of the writer’s life to the same level of their art, and in the idea that the day-in, day-out toil of writing is part of a larger, more significant narrative arc. In the hands of capable practitioners, these fictionalizations of a writer’s orbit clue readers in to struggles that play out in the authors’ work. The less capable turn emotional depth into tone-deaf soap opera.


Ian MacAllen is the founder of English Kills Review. He holds a Master’s Degree in English from Rutgers University and his writing has appeared in The Billfold, Electric Cereal, Thought Catalog and io9. He lives in Brooklyn, tweets @ianmac47, and experiments at ianmac47.tumblr.com. More from this author →