The very first words of Gore Vidal’s foreword to Alfred Chester’s collected stories (Head of a Sad Angel):
Although it has been my misfortune to have at practically all the noted American writers of the last half century, I did have the great good luck never to have so much as glimpsed Alfred Chester. He was, by every account, a genuine monster whose life comprises one of those Cautionary Tales that tend to over-excite journalists and school-teachers. Drink and drugs, paranoia and sinister pieces of trade did him in early, and the chronicle of his descent is as fascinating to read about in these pages as it must have been pretty grim to live.
I gave away two copies of this book to summer birthday friends this year, figuring that those are BruceLee fighting words if I’ve ever heard them applied to an author. Haven’t heard the report back, and I shook the piggybank or I’d ply you all with copies as well, but in the meantime, there’s this for an appetite whetter.