Recovering : Intoxication and Its Aftermath
by Jamison, Leslie

I Wonder
II Abandon
III Blame
IV Lack
V Shame
VI Surrender
VII Thirst
VIII Return
IX Confession
X Humbling
XI Chorus
XII Salvage
XIII Reckoning
XIV Homecoming
Author's Note449(4)

Presents an exploration of addiction that blends memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and journalistic reportage to analyze the role of stories in conveying the addiction experience, sharing insights based on the lives of artists whose achievements were shaped by addiction.-

Leslie Jamison is the author of the essay collection The Empathy Exams, a New York Times bestseller, and the novel The Gin Closet, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, and her work has appeared in publications including The Atlantic, Harper's, the New York Times Book Review, the Oxford American, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. She directs the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the novelist Charles Bock, and their two daughters.

*Starred Review* In this exacting memoir and multifaceted inquiry into addiction and recovery, Jamison reveals that while she was at Harvard and the Iowa Writers' Workshop and writing her novel, The Gin Closet (2010), she was, in phases, cutting herself, coping with anorexia, and drinking heavily. She worked on her highly lauded essay collection, The Empathy Exams (2014), while attending a doctoral program at Yale and battling to stay sober. Jamison observes, "My childhood was easier than most, and I ended up drinking anyway," a conundrum somewhat explained by a parsing of her family history. Her belief that she "had to earn affection and love by being interesting" induced her to seek the unfettering, the bliss, the risk, and the escape alcohol delivers. Writing with galvanizing specificity and mesmerizing fluidity, Jamison recounts her constant preoccupation with alcohol; her numerous crazy, dangerous, bad drunks; her blackouts and hangovers. She exhaustively documents her fraught relationships with men, gradually disclosing how her drinking fostered a distorted and isolating sense of self. As she commits herself to AA, she explores the complications and paradoxes of recovery, including the way stories of addiction are told.Within this relentless work of self-scrutiny, Jamison also conducts a meticulously researched, richly nuanced, and sensitive inquiry into the lives of now-legendary alcoholic writers, and keenly critiques the romanticized "whisky-and-ink mythology" of the tormented, hard-drinking literary genius. She contrasts the reverence for such white male writers as John Berryman and Raymond Carver, whom she portrays deeply, with the ways chemically dependent women writers, such as Jean Rhys, another focus, were maligned or pitied. Widening the lens and adding race to the mix, she protests the brutal criminalization of addiction that destroyed Billie Holiday. She then compares the lives of famous addicts with those of the diverse people she meets at the many recovery meetings she attends, encounters that alter her life and her writing.With her thorough dissection of The Lost Weekend (1944), Charles R. Jackson's now-classic autobiographical novel of alcoholism, and reclamation of George Cain's autobiographical novel of addiction and African American life, Blueschild Baby (1970), Jamison's encompassing investigation makes an excellent pairing with Olivia Laing's The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking (2014). Jamison's questing immersion in intoxication and sobriety is exceptional in its vivid, courageous, hypnotic telling; brilliant in its subtlety of perception, interpretation, and compassion; and capacious in its scholarship, scale, concern, and mission. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

An alcoholic's confessional of life from buzzed adolescence to blitzed adulthood and the fellowship of recovery.Educator, essayist, and novelist Jamison's (The Empathy Exams: Essays, 2014, etc.) introduction to the alluring crackle of alcohol occurred innocently in her early teens, but her messy descent into full-blown addiction began years later with her first blackout. In her early 20s she began drinking daily to blunt chronic shyness and ease relationship woes while getting her master's degree at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. There, the author found "drunken dysfunction appealing" and identified with accomplished writers whose creative genius managed to function notably beneath the blurry haze of intoxication, something she dubs the "whiskey-and-ink mythology." Throughout, the author references historical literary greats who were alcoholics, including Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman, Raymond Carver, Jean Rhys, and Charles Jackson among others. Jamison examines the transforma tive patterns of addiction and how these authors, within their own bodies of work, attempted to "make some sense of the sadness that consumed" them. Saturated with unbridled honesty, her riveting chronicle expectedly slopes downward, as the author notes how she once believed that "passing out was no longer the price but the point." After an abortion and persistent heart arrhythmias, Jamison eventually spiraled into the bleak desolation of rock-bottom alcoholism. Her ensuing heartbreaking attempts at rehabilitation ebbed and flowed. She relapsed after desperately missing the sensation of being drunk ("like having a candle lit inside you"), yet she also acknowledged that sobriety would be the only way to rediscover happiness and remain alive. Attending meetings, sharing her stories, and working the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous ushered the author into a new sober reality. Throughout Jamison's somber yet earnestly revelatory narrative, she remains cogent and true to her dual co m mitment to sobriety and to author a unique memoir "that was honest about the grit and bliss and tedium of learning to live this way—in chorus, without the numbing privacy of getting drunk." The bracing, unflinching, and beautifully resonant history of a writer's addiction and hard-won reclamation. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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