Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another drink, Mr. Marlowe?

One reader's book bender featuring works by boozy writers. (Proof)

All seemed hopeless. That night I lay on my couch clutching an old, stained copy of “The Long Goodbye” to my breast and cried myself to sleep.

The next morning, I awoke, emotionally weakened and physically drained, and made my way to a nearby Barnes & Noble. There a salesperson named Daniel gently led me to the memoir section. At first I recoiled. No, I cried, anything but this! I needed a whiskey-soaked fiction bad. But Daniel handed me Pete Hamill’s “A Drinking Life.” I read it slowly, doubting every page. But then something miraculous happened before I was halfway through: I liked it. I liked it a lot.

This new reading life wasn’t easy. The urge to slip back to my old ways was strong. I took it one book at a time. Hamill led the way to Mary Karr’s “Cherry,” then “Home Before Dark,” Susan Cheever’s memoir of life with her father, John Cheever. Soon I had a whole new bookshelf given over to writers who wrote just like my beloved boozers but did so in the past tense.


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