How did the man behind Dr. Strangelove and The Magic Christian squander his mad genius?
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A Very Heavily Negative Scene

The squandered genius and countercultural misogyny of Terry Southern.

by Mark O'Connell for Slate Book Review

In her editor’s note at the start of Yours in Haste and Adoration: Selected Letters of Terry Southern, Brooke Allen—who co-edited the book with Southern’s son Nile—mentions that her own father was a friend of Southern’s and a frequent recipient of his famously extravagant correspondence. â€œWhile his friendship with my father remained firm,” she writes, “my mother had less patience with his vagaries and she banned his visits after he set fire to our apartment in the early 1960s. I very much regret not having known him better.” No further mention is made of the incident, either in Allen’s note or in the letters that follow, but it’s an instructive remark—in the casual absurdity of such an anecdote appearing in an editor’s note, certainly, but also in the suggestion that setting a host’s apartment on fire was not an especially big deal, and more or less the sort of thing you’d have to expect if you invited Terry Southern over to stay for a bit... Click here to read the full review.

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