Charles Jackson was an author that kinda got lost in the shuffle of 20th century alcoholic writers.
His life was tragic. Naturally.
Jackson appeared to have lived a mostly closeted life. He suffered from tuberculosis, losing a lung, which led to alcohol and substance abuse. He died of apparent suicide in 1968.
Blake Bailey wrote a biography of Jackson titles Farther and Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson. Unlike every other book I talk about here, I might actually read that one.
The Lost Weekend is Jackson’s most famous work. Billy Wilder adapted it into a film in 1945. While the book was successful upon its release, it is now largely forgotten in the American canon.
The second chapter of the The Lost Weekend is probably the most harrowing description of being an alcoholic ever written. And while I thought the book was fantastic as a whole, I actually found Jackson’s second novel The Fall of Valor to be much more engrossing.
And unfortunately it’s been totally forgotten.
The Fall of Valor is about a man vacationing with his wife in Nantucket who suddenly becomes obsessed with a recently married Marine captain on leave from World War II. The blatant homosexual overtones were ahead of their time upon its release in 1946, but the novel is powerful in its exploration on the dissolution of relationships and masculinity.
Jackson’s style can get a little long winded at times, which bogged down The Lost Weekend at certain points. But it pays off in second novel. Jackson was an astute observer of human nature. He’s seen the dark side and knows what people are thinking even when they aren’t aware of it themselves. All of this comes together in a heartbreaking conclusion for The Fall of Valor.
Anywho, no jokes. That’s all I got.