The Recovering by Leslie Jamison

Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering combines addiction memoir with a brief history of contemporary alcoholism’s evolving place in the culture and a touch of literary criticism interrogating the great works by much mythologized alcoholic writers in the modern canon. The narrative clichés of addiction stories are acknowledged and explored in an interesting way, but every person’s experience of addiction is also specific and unique. With outstanding prose, Jamison writes of her own life so explicitly that, many times, I audibly groaned, not out of discomfort, but in acknowledgement that the emotions triggered by and fueling her experiences—shame, insecurity, self-obsession, and need—are not exclusive to the un-sober. They’re always there, whether you’re drunk or not. —Dusty Freund