Langston MoffettI have just finished Langston Moffett’s Devil By The Tail. The book is a thinly-disguised autobiographical account of an alcoholic’s decline and ultimate rehabilitation. The book is richly comic but also painfully honest (a modern blurb would say ‘searingly honest’) and so authentic that it became renowned among reforming and reformed alcoholics and was even translated into Italian by three times Nobel-nominated poet Maria Luisa Spaziani. Langston Moffett was the father of my friend and fellow author and writers’ workshop member, Cleve Moffett. Today, Cleve and I had lunch and he reminisced from a child’s point of view about the experiences described in the book. Langston Moffett, himself the son of a well-known playwright and journalist, Cleveland Moffett, ultimately settled in St Augustine, Florida, where he took up painting seriously, becoming part of  a flourishing local artistic community that included his sister, Mary Hackett. His first work was purchased by the Whitney Museum’s permanent collection and he had a one-man show in a New York gallery in 1947. Cleve, his son, has several of his paintings and brought them down for me to see. Moffett’s pictures (I have used one to illustrate this post) clearly owed more than a little to the surrealist movement, but he developed several trade mark traits of his own. Don Quichotte is rarely absent and there are always references to the places where he had once lived (Florence, in this case). Two quotations from his book sum up his art: ‘painting, complete in itself, provided the escape from and the return to reality’; and ‘Thackeray said no man knows what is in his heart until he begins to write. The same is certainly true of painting.’