With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and reportage, The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath 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 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 complicated bearing that race and class have on our understanding of who is criminal and who is ill.
"Leslie Jamison writes about the highs of dependency and also about the highs of recovery. Her prose is so sharp and evocative that the reader feels the thrilling trickle of alcohol down the back of the throat, and breathes the struggle for health and freedom. Jamison demonstrates great wit, penetrating intellect, and an enormous heart. This strangely exhilarating book is about recovery, but it is more resonantly a book about desire, consciousness, kindness, self-control, and love--and hence a Tolstoyan study of the human condition."-- Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of Far From the Tree and The Noonday Demon
"Symphonic... Beautiful and moving...Jamison writes with poignancy and compassion of hard-won triumphs, hers and others'. She is honest and observant, at times lyrical, about her experiences in AA, what the group gives its members, but also what they lose when they get sober. She writes about the sense of of fellowship in meetings viscerally, like a churchgoer describing a powerful service... The Recovering is an exhaustive and definitive Big Book."-- Kate Christensen, Wall Street Journal
"The breadth of Jamison's knowledge on this subject is impressive . . . The writing is beautiful. There are descriptive phrases that are simply breathtaking . . . I couldn't put the book down . . . More than that, I was genuinely moved by how accurately Jamison captures the experience of addiction, the hollows we all try to fill with one thing or another."-- Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist
Leslie Jamison is the author of the essay collection The Empathy Exams, a New York Times bestseller, and the novel The Gin Closet, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, and her work has appeared in publications including The Atlantic, Harper's, the New York Times Book Review, the Oxford American, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. She directs the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the novelist Charles Bock, and their two daughters.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams comes this transformative work showing that sometimes the recovery is more gripping than the addiction.