Blogmas Book Review – The Recovering: Intoxication and It’s Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

By the New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams, an exploration of addiction, and the stories we tell about it, that reinvents the traditional recovery memoir.
With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and journalistic reportage, The Recovering turns our understanding of the traditional addiction narrative on its head, demonstrating that the story of recovery can be every bit as electrifying as the train wreck itself. Leslie Jamison deftly excavates the stories we tell about addiction–both her own and others’–and examines what we want these stories to do, and what happens when they fail us.
All the while, she offers a fascinating look at the larger history of the recovery movement, and at the literary and artistic geniuses whose lives and works were shaped by alcoholism and substance dependence, including John Berryman, Jean Rhys, Raymond Carver, Billie Holiday, David Foster Wallace, and Denis Johnson, as well as brilliant figures lost to obscurity but newly illuminated here.
For the power of her striking language and the sharpness of her piercing observations, Jamison has been compared to such iconic writers as Joan Didion and Susan Sontag. Yet her utterly singular voice also offers something new. With enormous empathy and wisdom, Jamison has given us nothing less than the story of addiction and recovery in America writ large, a definitive and revelatory account that will resonate for years to come.
I borrowed this as an audiobook from my local library. I’m always looking for new audiobooks to listen to because I’m pretty picky about which ones I like. I tend to really enjoy non-fiction and not so much fantasy. So I found this one through the recommendation of a BookTuber, I sadly don’t remember which one it was though.
This book was insightful and informative. Though it was very long, part of me felt that I couldn’t listen to it for long periods of time like I can with some stories. As an alcoholic myself, I love listening to stories written by others that struggle with the same things that I do. This story was so relatable. The shame, the desire, it was all there exactly how I feel it. On top of this, there was a whole other level. Leslie Jamison writes about what it is like to be a writer with a drinking problem. I am exactly that. The struggles of being a writer in today’s world, with all of the history between drinking and being an author, it so well portrayed in The Recovering.
This story was so well written. As the author says in the book, she didn’t want to write ‘just another story of an alcoholic that gets better.’ It is not that at all. This story talks about the stories of many other writers with drinking problems, alongside the author’s own story. I loved the combination of the past, the history of writing and drinking, the struggles of writers that came before us. I loved following the author’s journey to learn about these people, the places they went, while she was overcoming (and sometimes failing) her own personal struggles.
For anyone that likes non-fiction, this is for sure a book I recommend. It was thought-provoking, insightful, and I really just enjoyed every minute.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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