One woman's journey to the bottom of the bottle--and back. In this tragicomic memoir about alcoholism as spiritual thirst, Heather King--writer, lawyer, and National Public Radio commentator--describes her descent into the depths of addiction. Spanning a decades-long downward spiral, King's harrowing story takes us from a small-town New England childhood to hitchhiking across the country to a cockroach-ridden "artist's" loft in Boston. Waitressing at ever-shabbier restaurants, deriving what sustenance she could from books, she became a morning regular at a wet-brain-drunks' bar--and that was after graduating from law school. Saved by her family from the abyss, King finally realized that uniquely poetic, sensitive, and profound though she may have been, she was also a big-time mess. Casting her lot with the rest of humanity at last, she learned that suffering leads to redemption, that personal pain leads to compassion for others in pain, and, above all, that a sense of humor really, really helps.
I picked this up at the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble and now I sort of understand why it was put there in the first place. While the premise of the story is interesting and uplifting, the actual telling of it is drawn out and overly dramatic. I'm not sure if I would feel differently if I had ever battled a horrible disease like alcoholism, but I kept wondering when she was going to be done describing the daily downs that accompany 24-7 drinking and drug use.
She definitely got the point across that she was not a likeable person during her addiction - and I liked her even less for the self-pitying narrative (however true it was at the time) that wove its way through the pages.
You know from the beginning how the story ends (recovery inspired by family intervention) and as I was reading, I was just waiting for the big tearful meeting to occur. Additionally, the role of religion seemed like an afterthought to the story - again, maybe I would understand if I had ever had a sudden enlightenment of the spiritual persuasion.
The most interesting bit about all of this was how immediately intriguing the quotes from her journal entries were. Acidic, scathing, sad, and b*tchy at once, they were truly insightful and amazingly written. I got the impression that the story would have been a better one if it only consisted of her journal entries!
All-in-all, not a bad read, but not a great one either.