*caroline's memoir is brave and important..The story of women, not just alcoholic women..her story is the victorious report of a woman's coming of age*
Caroline Knapp died on Monday, June 3, 2006 from complications arising from lung cancer. She was 42. Her second book, Drinking: A Love Story (Dial, 1996), about her struggle to come to terms with alcoholism, made her national reputation.
Her second bestseller, Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs (Dial, 1998), solidified her standing as a writer of distinction. Ostensibly a book about dogs, it is, like so much of Caroline's work, at heart about love and relationships. Just before she died, she finished her latest work, a book about women's appetites for, among other things, life, love, food, and sex.
Caroline died at Mount Auburn Hospital, where she was closely attended during the days before her death by her family, her friend and companion of many years, photographer Mark Morelli, and her dog, Lucille. Caroline and Mark were married in May, a few weeks after she was diagnosed.
Interesting and disturbing autobiographical look into the life of a "functional" alcoholic. The book was surprisingly well written and very insightful. At times it felt like the book was written more for the author than for the readers, which I suppose is true for many books, but this book came across as almost confessional. I thought the author was incredibly honest and forthright, and I hope she continues to abstain from alcohol. The author gave some "sobering" statistics (I use the word loosely) about how many folks stay recovered alcoholics.
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 anexoria and then 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 with the characters she's known along the way.
Great illustration of a functioning alcoholic. I think a lot of people, especially younger, college age people, can related to without realizing it's a problem. I had to read this book as a requirement of a graduate course. Our professor picked this as a good illustration of alcoholism as diagnosed in the DSM-V. Some parts are slow, as alcoholism isn't always interesting, but again told from someone who experienced it.
My book club chose this book, and I wasn't sure how I was going to like it, but I ended up really enjoying it and for the most part, found it a page turner. I work in the health field so I know something about how devastating alcoholism is, but this memoir brought all those statistics to life through the author's gripping account of her own struggle with the disease. I found it difficult to relate to alcoholism as a disease until I read this book: the kind of obsessive behavior and physiological responses she describes really bring it home.
But the heart of the story is the author's searing honesty about the life she was living as an alcoholic - the lies she told, the relationships she wrecked, and most importantly, how alcohol stunted her emotional growth and ability to mature. Well written, witty, and moving, I highly recommend this book, even for folks (like myself) who might've thought they'd be put off by the subject matter.
When I finished, I looked up Caroline Knapp to see if she had any other books and find out how she was doing, if she was still sober. I was sad to hear that just a few years after she got sober, she died of lung cancer (smoking was her other addiction) at 42. I think she probably appreciated the irony that in the end, it was lung cancer and not alcoholism that got her, and I bet she was grateful that unlike her father, she had made choices before her death that meant she met it sober and lucid, and after she'd had the chance to repair some of the damage her alcoholism caused. I hope she found the peace she so desperately sought in the end.
Knapp reveals so much about her reasons for abusing alcohol. I've never read a book that gives such a detailed poignant and intelligent account of the inner thoughts and feelings that lead one to need alcohol, why one drink is "never enough." I was enthralled.
I was cheering for Caroline to get help. The book was eye opening- how did she keep her work life going while she was drinking so much? I had no idea that people could live like that. It's a miracle Caroline survived the drinking life she described. I would have liked the book to be more balanced with more about the rehab experience. I was so glad she got help and wanted to hear more about that period.
I found this book informative about alcoholism and the thought processes involved. I have shared it with a friend who is living with the pain of an alcoholic in her family and it has also helped her cope with this disease. Since alcoholism touches many of us personally and through those close to us, I recommend this book to anyone. The story of the authors private struggles is not as important as some of the ahha moments I had during her narratives that sounded so familiar.