Spouses and the Creative People They Marry


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 Rumpus Deputy Editor and founder of English Kills Review an online literary magazine focused on books, authors, and New York City. His writing has appeared in Joyland Magazine, The Billfold, Fiction Advocate, Electric Cereal, Thought Catalog, and io9. He holds a Master’s Degree in English from Rutgers University and lives in Brooklyn. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →