Jim Golden's Reviews > A Drinking Life: A Memoir

A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill
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's review
Mar 26, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 1997

I was expecting more of a story about alcoholism and specific drunk events in Hamill's life. This is much more than a story about alcoholism, it is a story about Hamill's life, and alcohol just so happens to be pervasive throughout his childhood and adulthood. This is truly a complete picture of a man, of his boyhood in the Neighborhood, his family, marriage, his career, and alcohol touched every aspect of his life. Drinking was a constant throughout Pete's journey--a way to celebrate with friends, a way to get through your anger, a way to be social in the Neighborhood, and a way to relate to your co-workers as a newspaperman. In Hamill's boyhood, it was a point of pride in the Neighborhood to be able to handle your liquor, not to be a drunk, but to keep a steady stream of drinking while trading jokes and stories and songs.

Hamill doesn't push any kind of 12-step program in this book. He got sober on his own, in a snap, and he is unusual in his ability to do so. For this reason, for alcoholics looking to relate and to get some insight into their disease, I would recommend Caroline Knapp's book instead. For anyone looking for a fascinating memoir, a touching journey through life, and an inside look and the life of being a reporter, Hamill's memoir is highly recommended.
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