Abailart's Reviews > Drinking: A Love Story

Drinking by Caroline Knapp
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's review
Mar 20, 09

bookshelves: psychology, biography-autobiography, spirit
Read in March, 2009

I just pulled my previous review after discovering the author died at the age of 42 from lung cancer. I'd been wanting to find out how she was getting on after ceasing drinking in 1995. She did maintain sobriety from what I know and continued a successful career until her untimely death in 2002.

It is a very well written book, by a skilled journalist, and charts her slow and painful descent into alcohol dependence. As a very insightful account of her relationship with her father it is outstanding. (Incidentally, he was a wellknown psychoanalyst who told her once that insight usually was a rearranging of the facts. After his death she had confirmed her suspicion that he was an alcoholic). For the general reader, because such an intelligent, educated and deeply experiential account of her emotional and mental anguish, the book offers, as do any other accounts of socalled mental/emotional disorders, tremendous insight into the workings of the human mind that is deemed nonpathological.
She never reached the most dreadful stages of alcoholic damage in terms of physiological damage, but the story she tells is the same for all those who are being drawn towards the abyss. She dispels once and for all the stereotypes of the alcoholic, the most grotesque cases whereby others judge themselves not to have a drink problem. In this, I think she is right that there are more high functioning alcoholics like her than those skid row. The book may literally save some readers' lives by drawing to their attention the horror that lurks beneath their denial or ignorance that they do not have a serious problem.
The book is a valuable contribution to narratives of addiction and recovery. It is also a mirror to all of us and the times we live in.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Alan (new)

Alan what did your previous review say then?

Abailart My previous review was more or less as above except I noted that she had written the book at a relatively early stage of recovery. Generally, evidence suggests that recovery may be a slow and uneven process, and that stopping drinking for even two years does not guarantee recovery. I had mentioned this as a caveat, but it seemed inappropriate given that my research showed she had maintained recovery for seven years only to die of lung cancer. Ironically, her mother's last words as she lay on her deathbed were "Give up smoking".

message 3: by Alan (new)

Alan smoking - I'll have to stop. I have stopped, apart from the odd... Buried a writer friend of mine recently (well 2005)from lung cancer, 53. Carver gave up the booze only for the fags to get him..

anyway the book sounds good.

Cecily Something like half of all lung cancers are not related to smoking, FYI

message 5: by Alan (new)

Alan Cecily wrote: "Something like half of all lung cancers are not related to smoking, FYI"

really? Thanks for the info..

message 6: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Emory Jr. When Caroline Knapp died, I clipped her obituary from the newspaper and taped it on the back inside cover on this book. I wish I had the talent and skill to chronicle my addiction as she did hers. I think her voice was important - at least it was to me.

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