Smoking Makes You Look Cool

Mark Twain
Albert Camus
Kurt Vonnegut
Roland Barthes
John Steinbeck
Charles Bukowski
William Faulkner
Roberto Bolaño
Samuel Beckett
William Burroughs
JRR Tolkien
Oscar Wilde
Henry Miller
Barry O'Bama

19 thoughts on “Smoking Makes You Look Cool”

  1. Hmmm, all men. Don’t women writers smoke? Or maybe they’re smart enough to not get photographed smoking. Or maybe the criteria for being a successful woman writer doesn’t include sucking poison from some tobacco product into the lungs. Nah, probably not.

    It doesn’t matter whether it’s men or women. The obligatory “author smoking” photograph remains one of the great irksome visual cliches of our time. What other tiresome visual cliche can you think of? Hmmm, how about rap stars with an abundance of bling? Or maybe politicians holding babies?


    1. Lescaret, if you don’t really care that there are no women represented here, why devote your time to pointing it out?
      Why is the cliche so “irksome”? Are you actually “irked”? Why? Does it actually bother you to look at these pictures? It clearly prompted your complaint.
      If you’re going to take the time moan in the comments, come up with something to say.
      Yes, I can think of plenty of tiresome cliches (like sour, pedantic bloggers nitpicking on other blogs), but I don’t see any reason to post on them (and why would I post pictures of rap stars and their jewelry? This is a blog about literature, books, and writers). I like looking at pictures of writers; I save them to my hard drive; many of the photos feature writers smoking; I organize them in a simple post. That’s all there is to it.


      1. Amigo, no harm intended, and I certainly wasn’t meaning to come across as “moan”ing. But really, my comment justifies being called a “sour, pedantic” blogger? Damn.

        I did not mean to imply that you should post images of rappers with bling, I was just using that as an example of another prevailing visual cliche. I KNOW your blog is about literature, books, and writers, that’s why I read it everyday. You do incredibly great stuff – I’ll try to post more comments attesting to that.

        But yes, the image of writers smoking IS irksome – to me and I imagine to others. It doesn’t bother me to look at the photos, I just think that implicitly associating smoking with great writing is sort of, I dunno, dumb and irrelevant. You did title your post “Smoking makes you look cool” so, unless that was intended ironically (which, by the prickly nature of your response, I don’t think it was), then my comment doesn’t seem so out of bounds.

        And just so you know, discovering Roberto Bolano’s work was a major delight for me. Until The Savage Detectives came out in English (and which I read about here), I’d never heard of him. But that ubiquitous image of him sucking on a ciggy butt is abhorrent. Hey, writers smoke, someone might respond. Well writers pick their noses too but who wants to see photos of Faulkner with his index finger half buried in his schnoz?

        Anyway …. sorry if my comments came across the wrong way, I’ll try to be sweeter and less pedantic in the future.


        1. Hey, Lescaret,

          Thanks for coming back and clarifying.

          The title of my post was meant to be humorous, although not exactly ironic–more just a provocation. I don’t think that smoking makes someone look cool. I think that these writers, or most of them, probably just smoked all of the time and were thus photographed that way–I don’t think that the cigarettes are actually props in *all* of the cases.

          I am not pro-smoking, just as I am not pro-heroin, but I’m not vehemently anti- either. (Also, if I had a pic of Burroughs shooting up, I’d definitely post it. And I know it’s gross, but I’d love to see Faulkner picking his nose.).

          Please come back and be as sour as you like…I just like it when people comment in full on blogs!


          1. Awrright, where’s the pic of a writer with a joint? I got here from the 2/17/12 smoking writers blog. This is a fun page. Where did all the argumentatives go?


  2. This is stupid, Smoking Kills and its a big waist of money oh but Im sure you’ll find some and go get your smokes. Dumb asses.


    1. What is the referent for the “This” in your first “sentence” (i.e. that tangled mess of independent clauses in need of proper punctuation or subordinators)? I’ll assume that you’re referring to your comment. Don’t feel too bad about your comment’s stupidity though–plenty of people struggle with punctuation (particularly those oh-so-tricky apostrophes). Also, homophones like “waist” and “waste” can be really hard to remember, especially if you’re not very bright or don’t practice reading and writing too often! Bsmart, I encourage you to take your name to heart and fight the good fight. Pick up a copy of Strunk & White, for example. You can do it!


  3. @bsmart – not only are pretty much all of these people already dead, but no one knew smoking was bad for you at the time (except Vonnegut; he had no excuse. But then, he did live to be 84, and that isn’t how he died).


  4. I have an original copy of Dogs of War. The jacket photo of Forseth is with a butt in his mouth in profile and is super cool but I dont have the ability to scan it. JW


  5. What Twain and Vonnegut would tell someone like bsmart is that their era was a time when most people were more tolerant of reasonably harmless behavior. Ninnies have to be hysterical about something I suppose but the smoking attitude is so far out of hand that even Vonnegut couldn’t have dreamed up how ridiculous that would become. Hey Lady! If you can explain how a hundred years of asbestos brake dust lining all our roadways is not causing lung cancer then I will accept your silly claim that my second hand smoke is somehow effecting your health. And by the way, “bsmart”, waist is a body part. ” waste” is to waste money or waste a life (yours), unlike Twain and Kurt Vonnegut who lived full and interesting lives. JW


  6. Haters gonna hate. I think what this kind of post does, instead of celebrating smoking/smokers, is point out that being a smoker and being smart are NOT mutually exclusive states. I’ve heard a ton of logical arguments against smoking (the best one being the one about carcinogens), but the arguments that smokers smoke primarily because they’re ignorant/lack insight/are suicidal/not significant contributors to society, etc. are much more common than rational. Smoking is an unfortunate habit/addiction and I’m glad fewer people do it the more time goes by, but not since the Victorian era have smokers been so categorically reviled as now. Christians have a compassionate tenet that goes, “hate the sin, not the sinner,” and I think this applies perfectly in any culture that’s trying to eliminate tobacco (or any kind of) addiction. Excepting the very real dilemma of poor people/kids being targets of big tobacco advertising campaigns (which should make us hate the corporations, not their targets), I don’t think that smokers have historically been any particular kind of person, and assuming that a person who smokes is a member of a club of losers is a specious and pitiable mistake.

    I know this post is old, but it’s still relevant.


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