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Writers on the Edge: 22 Writers Speak about Addiction and Dependency

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"Writers On The Edge" offers a range of essays, memoirs and poetry written by major contemporary authors who bring fresh insight into the dark world of addiction, from drugs and alcohol, to sex, gambling and food. Editors Diana M. Raab and James Brown have assembled an array of talented and courageous writers who share their stories with heartbreaking honesty as they share their obsessions as well as the awe-inspiring power of hope and redemption.
CONTRIBUTORS: Frederick & Steven Barthelme, Kera Bolonik, Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Maud Casey, Anna David, Denise Duhamel, B.H. Fairchild, Ruth Fowler, David Huddle Perie Longo, Gregory Orr, Victoria Patterson, Molly Peacock, Scott Russell Sanders, Stephen Jay Schwartz, Linda Gray Sexton, Sue William Silverman, Chase Twichell, and Rachel Yoder
About the Editors
Diana M. Raab, an award-winning memoirist and poet, is author of six books including "Healing With Words" and "Regina's Closet." She's an advocate of the healing power of writing and teaches nation-wide workshops and in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program.
James Brown, a recovering alcoholic and addict, is the author of the memoirs, " The Los Angeles Diaries" and "This River." He is Professor of English in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at California State University, San Bernardino.
From the Reflections of America Series

204 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Diana Raab

12 books186 followers
Diana Raab, PhD is a memoirist, poet, essayist, blogger, and speaker who presents workshops in writing for healing and transformation. She has a PhD in Psychology with a concentration in Transpersonal Psychology and a research focus on the healing and transformative powers of memoir writing. Her educational background also includes health administration, nursing and creative writing.

Diana teaches two courses on “DailyOM: Write. Heal. Transform: A Magical Memoir Writing Course” and “Therapeutic Writing.”

She’s an award-winning author of ten books, over 1000 articles and poems, and editor of two anthologies, "Writers on the Edge: 22 Writers Speak About Addiction and Dependency," and "Writers and Their Notebooks."

Her two memoirs are "Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal" and "Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey." She has four poetry collections, including Lust.

Her latest books are Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life and Writing for Bliss: A Companion Journal, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s Books or wherever books are sold.

She blogs for Psychology Today, Thrive Global, Sixty and Me, The Wisdom Daily and many others.

For more information, check out her website, www.dianaraab.com or Follow her on Twitter @dianaraab

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for N.
212 reviews
February 19, 2016
"[It] is an important tenet of your sobriety: to remember always and forever that you are marked, that there is no cure for your affliction. One drink triggers the craving, and once the craving is on you're off and running -- next stop the dope-man's house. Beating the physical part of addiction is a cake-walk compared to silencing that voice in your head, the one that never goes away, telling you it's okay to have a drink, a line or a pill, because you've been clean and sober for a while. Because you can control it now. Compulsion is your soul mate, till death do you part, and your hold on sobriety is never more than tenuous."-- James Brown, Instructions on the Use of Alcohol.
I found the essays included all interesting and touching. I was surprised that a number of essays about depression were included in an anthology devoted to addiction; makes one think, I guess. The best thing about an anthology like this is that there is likely to be something for everyone, and the ones that don't really speak loudly to you may speak perfectly to another reader. The ones that I found most compelling, and the authors I now want to read more from include: Linda Gray Sexton (Pretty Red Stripes); Sue William Silverman (Last Day Out); Kera Bolonik (Lisa); Margaret Bullitt-Jonas (Putting Down the Duck); Victoria Patterson (Sweet Rolls and Vodka); Ruth Fowler (The World Breaks Everyone); Maud Casey (A Better Place to Live); Rachel Yoder (Night of the Violet Universe); James Brown (Instructions on the Use of Alcohol).
Profile Image for Aaron.
306 reviews4 followers
April 12, 2021
A marginally involving collection of addiction memoirs and some decent poems. The more extroverted addictions are less shocking than they are banal and pretentious, whereas the raw honesty in the smaller, more intimate essays is welcome. Sadly, a few stories have no resolution involving sobriety, and that is its own kind of sincerity when it comes to the journey that is addiction. Not exactly helpful reading for a sufferer of one affliction, documented amongst so many others, as the "variety-pac" assembly makes it more an entertainment for "normies".
Profile Image for Nadia.
7 reviews
May 18, 2012
If your interested in learning a little bit of what goes on the minds of those with addictions or mental health issues, Writers On The Edge is a good place to start. It gives you a glimpse of many addictions and mental health afflictions. You hear from the dependent or sick person, instead of from the medical professional's, clinical point of view. Writers On The Edge by Diana M. Raab and James Brown, editors, 2012.

Although I'm not a huge fan of excerpts, I really enjoyed the various author's personal stories & poems. Many of the excerpts made me want to go and find the original full story to read and enjoy. The poetry, although just as deep, was a needed relief from the stark reality of the author's sometimes disturbing experiences.

I also enjoyed the glimpse of times gone by from many of the storytellers. Many of them growing up in the 50's and 60's with addicted or mentally ill family members. Being able to see the difference in how families and society dealt with addiction, when there really wasn't a word for addiction.

I also liked the variances in addiction & dependency. From the well known addiction to alcohol to the over-eater to the mentally ill. And of course some of the many reasons why people become addicted. Whether it is genetics, a way to get some relief from their personal demons or simply just for fun.

There were 2 stories that hit home and made me feel as though I wanted to read the stories in their entirety.

The first was, A Better Place To Live, by Maud Casey. This excerpt was about Maud Casey and her battle with depression. Part of a line that struck me was "Being depressed felt like living in a corpse", (pg. 117). Perfect in the sense that it was a description that has eluded many people in the past. One sentence tells it all.

The second was from the memoir, Instructions On The Use Of Alcohol by James Brown. I loved how he wrote as though he was a third party observer. Instead of as the person who went through the drug addiction. In opinion, it could have been a way for him to write honestly or authentically. Writing as an observer may have been easier than writing and therefore having to relive his addictions again?

Excellent Read!
2 reviews
June 4, 2012
Diana M. Raab picked the perfect title for this book. In this book you will find the stories, or poems of 22 writers, who either fought addiction, or was a victim of somebody who was fighting addiction. Either way it’s a long journey to the end and some scars stick with you for life.
These writers faced addictions in so many different ways, addiction doesn’t mean only drugs and alcohol, it can be sexual, gambling, cutting, to food and so much more. You would be surprised just what and how easy you can be addicted to something. These writers bear their souls and share their fight or the fight of their loved ones to reach recovery, if they are lucky. Even recovery is a constant battle they have to fight every day, just one slip and it’s back to the start, to do it all over again.
Each writer’s story or poem is a look into their deepest, darkest feelings and emotions, their never talked about inner secrets about how they each fought their own personal demons.
Writers on the Edge was well written with the truth of how addiction can affect the person fighting it and the loved ones watching it. This book is a must read for everybody, regardless if you have never fought addiction. I can’t think of many people who hasn’t known somebody who had an addiction, whether they admit it or not, this is as the most honest look into the effects of addiction and how the road to redemption is a long haul, but worth every single step. After reading this book, it’s like somebody took the blindfold off my eyes and showed me what it’s like to be in their shoes, to feel their pain and to be careful, before I ever think I have the right to judge again.
I think it’s a book that is for everybody to read, you may not know anybody who has an addiction, but you never know when you might meet somebody who has one, or a child living with somebody who has.
Profile Image for Chasity.
Author 9 books43 followers
May 8, 2012
At first glance I thought this book was going to be a bit out of my ordinary reading material, however as I began reading it I realized I had read quite a few other books like this one, not all true stories as in this one, but about similar issues.

This book and its numerous stories did catch my attention and draw it in. Some of the stories really pulled me in and I found myself intrigued and yet wondering how addiction really works. How people continue to do these things to themselves, well the fact is, is that it is a disease. A disease no one will quite understand until they are forced to stare it right in the face. I think this compilation of stories helps people understand it maybe just a little bit better. In this book you get too see directly from the addict’s point of view in a lot of stories, most books aren’t like that. That one of the things that I really liked about this book, I also liked that it was a compilation of numerous stories not just one and none of the stories were long and drug out. They were all quick and easy reads, filled with interesting things. A very phenomenal book that was informative, interesting and helpful. I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who has struggled with an addiction or anyone who knows someone who has.

For more information on this book please visit: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1615991085/

You can learn about the author here : http://www.dianaraab.com/published_wo...

Profile Image for Trista.
33 reviews
May 6, 2012
Writers On The Edge is filled with emotional and eye opening stories from people in first person! First person is when they write about themselves, which is often hard to do, especially when it deals with addictions. As with any addiction, one can never be 100% recovered. There is going to be a little demon or often real life demon people who try to break ones strength. After reading quite a few of the various authors stories, I understand how difficult it was for them to sit down and write. One way I try to get my students to get their emotions out is through writing. We often do 'Fictional' writing, but I am often encountered with stories that are non-fiction and from his/her own life when we are finished. I accept it because it is a way for them to get their thoughts and feelings out when their mouths can not express it. I give great thanks to the authors who used their strength to give others and to provide such a eye-opening read. Often in the world people say 'those addicts' but really they do not understand the background or struggles that are happening on the inside and outside of that person they are calling an 'addict.' For all those people I highly recommend reading this book - get out of your colorful world and realize it does include some darkness.

Profile Image for Serena.
Author 1 book98 followers
June 18, 2013
Writers on the Edge: 22 Writers Speak About Addiction and Dependency edited by Diana M. Raab and James Brown is a collection of essays, memories, poems, and stories about addiction and dependency, but more than that they are harrowing experiences of surviving with addiction and dependency and the continuous struggle that dogs these writers throughout their lives. Most, if not all, of these essays are frank and honest about the vacillation between lying about an addiction and being honest about it and confronting it. The poems are similar in that way. From alcoholism to suicide and depression as well as overeating addictions, these writers share the struggle with themselves, each other, their readers, and sometimes even their families. “These writers were more often than not, perps–their own or somebody else’s. It’s roughly akin to reading a recollection of Nagasaki survivors by people who dropped the bomb on themselves,” says Jerry Stahl in the Foreword.

Read the full review: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2013/06/w...
Profile Image for Jenelle.
9 reviews5 followers
May 19, 2012
This was a powerful and moving book of short stories about individuals from all walks of life telling their story of addiction. I started reading and couldn’t put the book down because it was a realistic perspective of how addiction affects people in different ways and the reasons behind addiction.
I was interested in reading this particular book because I too have struggled with addiction on a personal level in various forms throughout the course of my life and with those that were close to me. I love the Preface excerpt that I previously mentioned because it is true that the face of addiction has changed over the years, however; the stigma is still there about what a person with an “addiction looks like” and that has to change.
I loved this book because it was so real and raw. It was the person speaking from the heart and it was compelling and thought provoking.
Great book and highly recommended for anyone that has/is suffering from an addiction or knows someone that has an addiction.
65 reviews8 followers
July 5, 2012
I would recommend this to anybody who has ever had to deal with an addiction of any kind, even those who were ever a part of an addicts life.
This book will open your eyes and really start to make some sense as to why, how, what, and who.
I believe we all have an addiction of some sort, and whether you want to accept how it takes a part of your life, and affects others around you, it really does. Of course, not everybody has a drug addiction, neither do the people in this book.
I am fascinated by the strength and courage of these authors, and commend them for opening up and letting us see what it's really like from their end.
Profile Image for Greg.
69 reviews3 followers
May 30, 2015
Addictions come in so many varied and frightening forms, but at heart there is such a sad sameness to them. There are some really strong pieces in this collection, a few of which I'm going to remember for a very long time.
Profile Image for Andrea.
1,010 reviews75 followers
October 16, 2013
It's always hard to rate an anthology--there are some five star contributions in this book. Definitely worth reading.
Profile Image for Herb.
95 reviews5 followers
November 20, 2015
A book of woes which show that in order to tell a story, one must first destroy one's self.
Profile Image for Kristen.
466 reviews1 follower
July 6, 2012
Pretty good...too many addictions, sex, food, shopping, too much and a bit overwhelming. Loses some impact
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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