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Legend has it that the inspiration for great art is substance abuse and "Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers" is a new book that delights in recognizing our country’s poets, screenwriters, playwrights and novelists while lionizing their concurrent abilities to put it away.

Park Slope author Mark Bailey teamed up with Gowanus illustrator Edward Hemingway (who claims to be the grandson of Earnest) to create this book which mixes tidy bios of the greats with reports of their bad behavior under the influence as well as recipes for each scribe’s favorite cocktail - or what Bailey imagines would be a suitable choice.

For instance, Sherwood Anderson’s tribute is a cautionary tale. The author of "Winesburg, Ohio" swallowed a toothpick at a party and died soon after from an infection of the stomach, writes Bailey. Rather than mourn the scribe, the reader can toast Anderson with the "Old-Fashioned" recipe that’s supplied. But Bailey requests that out of respect for Anderson - when garnishing the libation with a lemon twist, orange slice and cherry - that you leave off the toothpick.

While it’s puzzling that the authors left out Brooklyn native Pete Hamill, who penned the memoir "A Drinking Life," there are stories about a diverse group of 43 men and women which will inspire you to go to the library and catch up on the classics - or send out invitations to your own holiday cocktail party.

Edward Hemingway and Mark Bailey will read from "Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers" (Algonquin Books, $15.95) at BookCourt [163 Court St. at Dean Street in Cobble Hill, (718) 875-3677] on Nov. 14 at 8 pm. For more information, visit

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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