Whisky, ink and the road to ruin

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The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath. By Leslie Jamison. Little, Brown; 452 pages; $30. Granta Books; £20

WHEN Leslie Jamison told people she was writing a book about addiction, their eyes glazed over. “Oh, that book, they seemed to say, I’ve already read that book.” They had a point, she concedes. With their tired tropes about spiralling downwards and the “tawdry self-congratulation” of recovery, such stories defy originality. More troublingly, tales of falling apart are usually more interesting than those of pulling it together. This insight threatened Ms Jamison’s aspirations to get and stay sober. If accounts of drying out are dull, does sobriety come at the expense of art?

“The Recovering” offers ample evidence to the contrary. A blend of memoir, literary criticism and social history, it is as engaging as it is thoughtful. Ms Jamison proves both an…Continue reading

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