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3.5 starsCaroline Knapp s Appetites stole my heart earlier this summer if I could I would quote every single page of that book Drinking, Knapp s earlier memoir, has a similar strength in its empowering vulnerability regarding Knapp s alcoholism While this book lacks some of the insights within Appetites, it gives a searing look into the life of a former high functioning alcoholic Of course, there is no simple answer Trying to describe the process of becoming an alcoholic is like trying to describe air It s too big and mysterious and pervasive to be defined Alcohol is everywhere in your life, omnipresent, and you re both aware and unaware of it almost all the time all you know is you d die without it, and there is no simple reason why this happens, no single moment, no physiological event that pushes a heavy drinker across a concrete line into alcoholism It s a slow, gradual, insidious, elusive becoming.Knapp does a wonderful job deconstructing the stereotype driven image of an alcoholic She describes that alcohol affects a variety of people, not just white, middle aged men Her writing corroborates this point it possesses a level of intellect that pushes her thought process forward while remaining relatable She includes statistics about alcohol use and even touches upon the history of alcohol and some of the science surrounding it We see, we watch, we know, and together the wine, beer, and liquor industries spendthan 1 billion each year reinforcing this knowledge drinking will transform us.And it does, for a little while It melts down the pieces of us that hurt or feel distress it makes room for some other self to emerge, a version that s new and improved and decidedly less conflicted And after a while it becomes central to the development of that version, as integral to forward motion as the accelerator on a car Without the drink you are version A With the drink, version B And you can t get from A to B without the right equipment.Knapp reveals a lot about her personal life too, ranging from an affair with one of her professors at Brown to her twisted, dark relationship with her father Her familial introspection might deter some readers, but for those who enjoy reading self reflection, Knapp holds no qualms about sharing it all she shows just how much alcohol harmed her personal relationships and how it acted as a self destructive force within her life The personal anecdotes in Drinking give Knapp s analysis life and meaning beyond statistics about alcoholism on a spreadsheet In reality, though, the drinking merely complicated the sense of fragmentation, contributed to the gradual loss of control And that s precisely how drinking works Your life gets ugly and you drinkYou drinkand your life gets uglier still The cycle goes on and on and on, and in the process you become increasingly isolated and lost, stuck in your own circle of duplicity and rationalization and confusion, the gap between your facades and your inner world growing wider and wider andcomplete.Overall, recommended for anyone interested in reading a memoir about a former high functioning alcoholic While I found parts of the book repetitive and some of Knapp s narrative choices strange, Drinking succeeds in placing you in the mindset of someone who has succumbed to drink as a romantic other If you liked this book, I would recommend you check out Knapp s posthumously published memoir Appetites. Inside InformationThis book is so well written, and is so honest and informative, it is perhaps the most compelling and useful story about addiction I ve ever read Caroline Knapp, an Ivy League educated columnist and editor, shares the story of her slide into alcoholism and her road to recovery with brutal honesty Her down to earth, conversational tone pulls you in, and paints a very credible picture of someone who goes beyond the singular, self serving notion of merely writing a memoir Recovery has brought out the best in her, and her writing is filled with gratitude and a deep sense of caring for the health of all those around her with or without addiction issues.The love story metaphor plays all the way through and works well I particularly liked the way she continues the analogy through her recovery and labels her relationship with alcohol a divorce She not only divorced alcohol, for the first year she took out a restraining order, and avoided alcohol the way you d avoid running into an ex lover at a restaurant Some of us have a difficult time understanding the disease of alcoholism and,to the point, what goes on in the mind of an alcoholic or addict that keeps him her on this self destructive path Knapp lays it bare She comes across as someone you would want to know.I recommend this book for anyone interested in understanding the nature of both the active alcoholic and the recovering alcoholic These pages are like a 280 AA meeting, offering insight, understanding even comfort and most importantly, honesty.Well done. I have an addiction to addiction memoirs, especially if the person is in recovery and is in a reflective mood After all, who doesn t love a good redemption story Caroline Knapp s memoir of her alcoholism is one of the best addiction memoirs I ve ever read She described herself as a high functioning alcoholic, which meant she was mostly able to balance her journalism career with her excessive drinking I read this in 2000, but the writing was so good that I still remember several scenes from it vividly One such scene was when she was trying to juggle two boyfriends at the same time In hindsight, she recognized that alcohol seriously impaired her judgment no kidding and that she was frequently making thingsdifficult for herself So she was in a situation where she had two boyfriends and was trying to sneak around to spend time with each of them, but she didn t know how to stop the madness This seems to be a common problem for addicts making poor decisions and not knowing how to fix it because they are so involved in their quest to stay drunk or high I was sad to learn that Knapp died of lung cancer in 2002 I think she would be comforted to know that her memoir has helped other addicts, and I would highly recommend the book to anyone dealing with alcoholism or those who have relationships with an alcoholic. Quotable My mother understood that drinking wasdangerous than smoking and she understood why smoking could ruin my body drinking could ruin my mind and my future It could eat its way through my life in exactly the same way a physical cancer eats its way through bones and blood and tissue, destroying everything.Beneath my own witty, professional fa ade were oceans of fear, whole rivers of self doubt I once heard alcoholism described in an AA meeting, with eminent simplicity, as fear of life, and that seems to sum up the condition quite nicely.One of the first things you hear in AA one if the first things that makes core, gut level sense is that in some deep and important personal respects you stop growing when you start drinking alcoholically The drink stunts you, prevents you from walking through the kinds of fearful life experiences that bring you from point A to point B on the maturity scale When you drink in order to transform yourself, when you drink and become someone you re not, when you do this over and over and over, your relationship to the world becomes muddied and unclear You lose your bearings, the ground underneath you begins to feel shaky After a while you don t even know the most basic things about yourself what you re afraid of, what feels good and bad, what you need in order to feel comforted and calm because you ve never given yourself a chance, a clear sober chance, to find out.No is an extraordinarily complicated word when you re drunk This isn t just because drinking impairs your judgment in specific situations, like parties or dates which it certainly may it s because drinking interferes with the larger, murkier business of identity, of forming a sense of the self as strong and capable and aware This is a difficult task for all human beings, but it s particularly difficult for women and it s close to impossible for women who drink.I was too cautious and inhibited and scared to give in to extremism of any kind in sobriety, emotional or otherwise But when I drank, it happened When I drank, the part that felt dangerous and needy grew bright and strong and real The part that coveted love kicked into gear The yes grew louder than the no.Drinking alone is enormously self protective, at least in theory The solitude relives you of human contact, which can feel burdensome to even the most gregarious alcoholic, and the alcohol relives you of your own thoughts, of the dark pressure of your own company Drinking alone is what you do when you can t stand the feeling of living in your own skin.There s something about sober living and sober thinking, about facing long afternoons without the numbing distraction of anesthesia, that disabuses you of the belief in externals, shows you that strength and hope come not from circumstances or the acquisition of things but from the simple accumulation of active experience, from gritting the teeth and checking the items off the list, one by one, even though it s painful and you re afraid.Booze the liquid security blanket the substance that muffles emptiness and anger like a clod snow.I understood that a beer, and the one after that and the bottle of wine after that, served a very specific purpose it kept me from that piercing conscience of self, kept me from the task of learning to tolerate my own company.Without liquor I d feel like a trapped animal, which is why I always had it Without liquor I didn t know what to do with myself, and I mean that in the most literal sense, as though my thoughts and my limbs were foreign to me and I d missed some key instructions about how to use them.A lot of alcoholics use the cucumber to pickle analogy to describe a phenomenon a true alcoholic is someone who s turned from a cucumber into a pickle you can try to stop a cucumber from turning into a pickle, but there s no way you can turn a pickle back into a cucumber.You know that bumper sticker that says SHIT HAPPENS That pretty much sums it up for me Shit happens So what Why analyze it I just don t want to analyze it any.Attaching all your hopes and fantasies to something or someone outside yourself almost always has disastrous results.Al Anon estimates that every alcoholic s drinking affects at least four other people.Alcoholics drink in order to ease the very pain that the drinking helps create That s another one of the great puzzles behind liquor, the great paradoxes You hurt, you drink you hurt some , you take up the intake I the process, of course, you lose any chance you might have had to heal authentically.Instead of making the painful choice, instead of walking away or standing up for myself, or figuring out what I really needed, I d drink, and the drink would make me succumb to the dynamic, succumb to the relationship and the anger.Fact One I drank too much.Fact Two I was desperately unhappy.I had always thought I drink because I m unhappy Just then, I shifted the equation, rearranged the words Maybe, just maybe, I m unhappy because I drink.Better The word seems thin, even a little deceptive Sobriety is less about getting better in a clear, linear sense than it is about subjecting yourself to change, to the inevitable ups and downs, fears and feelings, victories and failures, that accompany growth You do get better or at least you can but that happens almost by default, by the simple fact of being present in your own life, of being aware and able, finally, to act on the connections you make.When you re actively alcoholic, you don t bother to solve problems, even petty ones, in part because you have no faith in your ability to make changes and in part because even the smallest changes seem improbable and risky You begin to feel like you re trapped in quicksand any move you make threatens to drag you down farther so after a while you just stop, resign yourself to the most complete form of inertia You get so used to being a passive participant in your own life, so used to being entrenched in the same gray rituals and patterns, that even the most trivial action seems useless and overwhelming.Passivity is corrosive to the soul it feeds on feelings of integrity and pride, and it can be as tempting as a drug.Not drinking is a choice one makes every day, sometimes many times a day The immediate decision is clear either you pick up the glass or you don t.Alcohol is what shielded me all those years from the messy business of standing in that room with my emotions, coming to terms with my own quiet, restrained, complicated heritage, finding ways to tend to my own needs, instead of waiting for others to jump in and tend to them for me In a word, alcohol is what protected me from growing up.My terror that I d be bored and lonely in sobriety abated almost immediately In fact, as time goes on, I becomeaware of how bored and lonely I was while I was drinking, and how muchtextured and varied my life seems without it.When you re drinking, you re too cloudy and too angry to step back You can t see clearly and you certainly can t see that you have choices in how to deal with people, how to negotiate relationships. Almost done Picked this up in my supervisor s office to read when i don t have any calls to make or meetings to run It had some okay parts, but on the whole Knapp s broad generalizations about alcoholics Alcoholics do this, alcoholics do that, we do this, blah blah blah got really irritating So she was is an alcoholic that means she can speak from her own experience, but not from EVERY alcoholic s Plus her writing was just so trendy. I seriously considered putting this book down around the 144 page mark which I rarely ever do but I managed to get through it Okay, first of all, I have much respect for what Knapp put down for this book I know from experience that it s not fun to write about such difficult personal moments for others to read Revisiting and reliving those memories is a difficult task of its own That said, I found the book frustrating, at times agonizing to read, once I got to the halfway point of the memoir It was painfully repetitive by then the writer telling us in a sweeping, definitive, almost preacher tone, yet again, how drinking fed denial in life how it prevented her from growing as a person how it numbed her feelings how she took to drinking to numb her many anxieties about life I would read it, eventually skim over those paragraphs, thinking, I get itcuz you already fucking mentioned it three or four times Grrgh Plus, her generalizations about alcoholics sometimes made me roll my eyes though I ve never read such a perfect description of a hangover, or what you think about after a night of blackout drinking The prose itself was excellent, made it easier to digest this book despite its difficult terrain For me, it was doubly hard to get through this book because it just wasn t funny At all Though brutally honest, it became too much of a predictable one note, my life was harrowing and it was my damn fault story though the last two chapters provided some hard earned respite It s hard to read that, page after page without some relief, some laughter, or something hopeful to lift the reader And though it sounds strange to say since we re with Knapp throughout a nearly 300 page book, but while I read the book and after I finished it I felt like I didn t really get to know her This probably further made it difficult for me to sympathize with her as much as I would have hoped to. I thought this was well done The book addresses one s relationship with alcohol and the difference between not being able to quit and not wanting to I think the title is excellent Sadly the author s personality led her to various addictions including anorexia and smoking This supports recent studies noting that many people who have undergone gastric bypass surgery later struggle with alcohol and other addictions, often leading to depression Knapp died too young, from lung cancer secondary to years of smoking Tragic. Compelling memoir which paints a perhaps counterintuitive picture of what alcoholism looks like It s pretty depressing.Sarah Hepola s 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 arehigh 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. ^FREE DOWNLOAD ↷ Drinking: A Love Story ⇲ The Roots Of Alcoholism In The Life Of A Brilliant Daughter Of An Upper Class Family Are Explored In This Stylistic, Literary Memoir Of Drinking By A Massachusetts Journalist Caroline Knapp Describes How The Distorted World Of Her Well To Do Parents Pushed Her Toward Anorexia And Alcoholism Fittingly, It Was Literature That Saved Her She Found Inspiration In Pete Hamill S A Drinking Life And Sobered Up Her Tale Is Spiced Up With The Characters She Has Known Along The Way A Journalist Describes Her Twenty Years As A Functioning Alcoholic, Explaining How She Used Alcohol To Escape Personal Relationships And The Realities Of Life Until A Series Of Personal Crises Forced Her To Confront Her Problem