Gorgeous, propulsive, completely stunning, Leslie Jamison's addiction memoir is everything I had hoped for. A book with huge ambitions, and a wide-tented heart, some of the most affecting parts of Recovering come at you from surprising angles - the endless baking of sugar cookies, an examination of Raymond Carver's sober stories and the gin-soaked self-pity of Jean Rhys, razor-sharp insights into what we talk about when we talk about sentimentality, the prison of narrative, the oblivion of the alcoholic's black out. Everything good you have heard about this book is true. Please read it.— Madeleine
“I've loved everything Leslie Jamison's written, but best of all so far is The Recovering, a memoir/history/criticism-hybrid that takes addiction and recovery as its subject. Every time I sat down with this book, I felt like I was in the company of my smartest friend, someone who knew all the right words for life's greatest pleasures and pains. Her book moves fluidly from personal remembrances to perfectly synthesized research into how and why people (herself and artists and others) elect to warp their consciousness with substances. The Recovering is a thorough and thoughtful look at many of our worst and some of our best tendencies, and Jamison's continually compelling style makes it a delight to read.”
— John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams, a transformative work showing that sometimes the recovery is more gripping than the addiction
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.