It is a hard-to-find book; even special ordered and second-hand. But that is not why They will steal it and...moreThey will steal this book from your shelf.
It is a hard-to-find book; even special ordered and second-hand. But that is not why They will steal it and that is not why you will be pissed at seeing it gone. Pissed because you are a drunkard and it is the most beautiful book written by/about a drunkard; stolen because They hope it will explain your condition.
Your condition summed up by the book’s title: The Drinker. The book’s back cover explaining the almost-autobiographical story was written while the author was in an asylum: committed in 1940’s Germany for the insanity of “consumption”. Of course They did not want to steal it--- it just had to be done. For your own good. How else could They understand you?
Only thru this simple book; 282 pages read in one night. The revelations They think They find about you litter the first fifty:
Then I sat down at table again, feeling pleasantly abandoned to my drunkenness, and only the necessity of at least going through the form of eating, presented difficulty. My stomach seemed a very delicate thing, ready to revolt at any moment. Each single bite had to be fed to it with the greatest care, an I regretted that the food which I had to swallow for appearances’ sake was going to disturb the drunkenness which was quietly making itself felt.
...a pity I’ve wasted so many years of my life when I might have been drinking...
I had the last bottle at my lips, I realised with a terrible certainty that I was lost, that there was no salvation for me, that I belonged to alcohol, body and soul.
Right in the presence of my neat, sober, efficient wife, I wanted to get blind raving drunk, to put my feet up on the desk, to sing coarse and dirty songs and use obscene expressions. What utter satisfaction to drag her down into the filth with me, to make her see: this is the one you used to love, and this is that your love has made of him...
With that They find what was set out to be found: the only logical reason of his downfall was, obviously, a woman. And, being woman, They think They can be the solution. So the rest of the book is read much like a how-to manual; read as though it is the oracle of what will become of you if They do not succeed in saving you--- read to justify that you need saving. It starts with:
There were tears in my eyes, lights flickered in front of them, veils seem to float through my brain, often I was almost unconscious. At last I lay on my bed again, nearly dead with exhaustion, seized with an insane fear; was the end near? So soon, already? I hadn’t been drinking for very long, and not at all excessively. Did one become a drunkard so quickly? No, I didn’t want to die yet! I had regarded this period of drunkenness merely as a passing phase; I had been convinced that I could give it up at any time without harming myself – and now was everything to come to an end already? No, it was impossible!
They will continue reading the vast pages that do not mention drink – or even the need to drink – and become as terrified as you did upon the first reading--- but for different reasons. They will see the protagonist’s degradation as yours: assaulting his wife, prison, insane asylum. Whereas you flipped thru the pages quickly in fear fearing forced sobriety would be so easy; terror comes in thinking it would be. Thoughts thought until reading the end--- the beautiful consumptive end.
But They will not reach a conclusion about the book for months to come; not until They fail at saving you. Then – exhausted by your inability to change – the last few pages will be read again:
...and I will drink, at last after so many years of privation I will drink, gulp by gulp, at long intervals, savouring my endless happiness to the full. And I will become young again, and I will see the world blossoming, all the springtimes and the roses and the young girls from time past. But one will approach me and lean her pale face over me, who have fallen on my knees before her, and she will enshroud me with her dark hair. Her perfume will be about me and her lips laid on mine and I will no longer be old and disfigured, but young and beautiful, and my reine d’alcool will draw me up to her and we will soar into intoxication...
and it will be written off as a realist’s cynicism or – at best – as the reality that you long for someone other than They. And They will dispose of the book as a way of trying to forget you.
Then you’ll set out to find another copy to fill the gap on your bookshelf. Maybe it will be the very same stolen/disposed of copy bought back from a used book store – there are not too many copies in print, after all – and, replaced, you will wait for the next one to come and steal it again.