Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties
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These literary heroines did what they wanted and said what they thought, living wholly in the moment. They kicked open the door for twentieth-century women writers and set a new model for every woman trying to juggle the serious issues of economic independence, political power, and sexual freedom. Here are the social and literary triumphs and inevitably the penances paid: crumbled love affairs, abortions, depression, lost beauty, nervous breakdowns, and finally, overdoses and even madness.
A vibrant mixture of literary scholarship, social history, and scandal, Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin is a rich evocation of a period that will forever intrigue and captivate us.
city anywhere than New York in winter, she thought. A few blocks from the Hotel Majestic, Dottie and her husband were preparing to abandon their apartment on West End Avenue and Seventy-first. After months of agonizing, they were going to spruce up their wartime marriage by giving it what amounted to a fresh paint job and new curtains. Eddie had just lately pulled out of his morphine addiction (he still drank heavily) and returned to work at Paine Webber. They rented an apartment the size of a
months went by before Vincent concluded that “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” had been lost in the mail and sent another copy. At last her mother answered by politely saying that she had passed along the “wonderful” poem to Kay and Non, who had loved it. Kay, in fact, did not love it. Embarrassed, she refused to show the poem to her husband. (Another person who disliked it was Bunny, who thought it belonged in a ladies’ magazine.) While Vincent took care to conceal her unhappiness from her
didn’t want to hear it. She was three years his senior, she told him, and no Madonna to boot, having had more sexual partners than she could count on both hands, eighteen, give or take a few, by her calculation. (Her accounting methods may not have included the women, though.) But he insisted that neither age nor history made any difference; he still wanted to make her his wife. ZELDA SAYRE was going to be married in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. She stepped off the train at Pennsylvania Station
she’s “queen of the campus,” sniffed one of the Round Table regulars.) In his optimism over the book, F. Scott Fitzgerald was cute, Dottie decided. But the Kewpie-doll bride was a bit of a bumpkin. DURING LUNCH Zelda had an opportunity to take the measure of “Mrs. Parker,” whose shadowy husband was never seen and for all Zelda knew may not even have been alive. She was not particularly impressed. To Zelda, who had perfected the gift of smiling politely without listening (so that you wondered
apartment on opening night, let alone climbing into his bed. Even if something did take place, she probably wanted to obliterate the memory. As she found out a few days later, Jed really was a cruel man who enjoyed terrifying people. During a chatty phone conversation with George toward the end of the week, Jed paused and said, without warning, “I’m going to close the play.” Close? He wanted to close The Royal Family? George had suspected Jed was a mental case, but now he was sure. “But why, for