Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Coming Soon: More Drunkelogues (ZZZZ...)

Seems there's now a 13th Step. After hitting bottom, you hit the keyboard--if you're a white boy with glitterati cred, that is.

According to Choire Sicha in the NY Observer, this fall there are no less than four (count 'em: 4!) rehab memoirs hitting the bookshelves, all from youngish men with somewhat famous last names and/or connections. All that and the film of RUNNING WITH SCISSORS too.

I can hardly wait...NOT!

Tolstoy famously noted, "All happy families are alike." Here's what I discovered: So are all recovery stories. I came of age--and beyond--surrounded by drunks and drug addicts. Even married one, once upon a time. So I've been to countless Al-Anon meetings and a few AA meetings as well. And every wretched tale I've heard or read goes like this:
  1. Drunk falls into downward spiral of alcoholic excess, often losing home/job/friends/love of significant other(s).
  2. Drunk bottoms out, sometimes in a spectacular fashion, almost always in a sordid one.
  3. Drunk goes through painful drying-out process.
  4. Drunk rejoins society a new and better, if rather shaky, person.
  5. End of story, except for those poor souls who lather, rinse & repeat; sometimes more than once.
I wonder what these new authors bring to the table that we haven't seen before. Not much, I expect. None of them seems to have done anything particularly remarkable other than become sober--a grueling feat, but certainly not an unusual one. None of them has lived long enough to look back on their recovery through the perspective of aged wisdom; or even humility, as Sicha adroitly points out. These guys are only in their thirties. One of them says that he wrote his book because he has twins to put through college. Maybe he's off the sauce now, but he must be smoking something to think that he'll earn enough from this one book to pay for two kids' higher education (and you know he's thinking Ivy League, not Moo U), especially with three more like it coming out this season.

And another thing: Why are these recovery books all by men?

Way back when AA started, it was thought that women couldn't be alcoholics. We know better now. Are women on the crash-and-burn party circuit not writing tales of speedy redemption? I would hope they'd have the sense not to, but I suspect that for some reason (sexism?), more likely their stories are just not getting picked up for publication. Not that there's anything wrong with that: what goes on in those rooms should stay in those rooms, if only because it's so nauseatingly repetitious. I wish the boys felt the same way, or at least would wait till they had a complete 4th act--or even a 5th or 6th--to share with the world.


Anonymous said...

You need to read more Anne Lamott.

Anonymous said...

I think the women are busy writing the same sorts of books about anorexia/bulimia/food addiction. I noticed more and more of them appearing in the Recovery section back when I worked at Borders.

-Sarah Kate