I have five books to tell you all about (lucky for you, I won't tell you about them all now.) Five books can be months and months of reading. For many nights I have tucked myself into bed and read 'til the pages blur from tired eyes. This can take anywhere from five to twelve minutes.
Having a good book at night is essential to my happiness for it helps end the day without worry. I put my cares away and dive into the jaws of whatever I happen to fancy. Basically, I shut the brain off and go into entertainment-land.
Traditionally, I have finished a book and typed up a real nice book report on this here blog. I do this so that I'll remember what I've read. I also do this because it's like my very own book club – only there's no time commitment and/or constraints, and I get to be the designated windbag. You know what I mean by that, right? Book clubs are scary (or so I've heard) because there's always that someone who participates just so they can go on-and-on (and on) about some inner (boring) deep meaning, deciphered by the hand of their quick wits and the lyrics of a Todd Rungren album.
Uh-oh. I'm feeling some history here. In high school, the weirdos I hung out with had somehow established that it was hip and edgy to be known as "deep" or "deep thinking." We'd discuss important stuff like philosophy (for teens) and why Aldous Huxley should rule the (under) world. We'd also talk some about preserving our mother nature, which usually involved climbing a tree, doing something illegal, then climbing back down.
We were so cool... but we were so dumb. It's crystal clear now. I mean philosophy for teens? Is there a paradox more hysterical? And that gaffer Huxley can't rule the world 'cause he's dead – was dead even way back then. But dude... what about the doors of perception... man... you gotta open them... ... ... Now insert more trailing phrases that make no point and mean nothing and you'll get the idea.
Hehehehe. That's my blog! The more things change, like, the more things, like change just a little bit, and then like, they come full circle and change in the other direction, and then, like, fall from the tree, and like the next thing you know, you're an apple all morphed up with the faces of both yer parents.
Anyway. I have five books to report. They are (in the order I read 'em):
The Life of Pie – Yann Martel
The Partly Cloudy Patriot – Sarah Vowell
A Romance on Three Legs – Katie Hafner
(A Hundred pages of) Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez
Drinking: A Love Story – Caroline Knapp
I read The Life of Pie somewhere around a while ago. I figured that since I finished Drinking just yesterday, it's still all fresh 'n stuff, so I better do it first. Then I figure I'll finish up the book reports in any order I choose. You okay with that? Good. Here we go.
Drinking: A Love Story
by Caroline Knapp
Drinking is another dandy that Megan threw at me. For reals. She flew into town for Christmas and I picked her up at the airport. She jumped in the car, threw this book at me and said, "Read it." Or something like that. For the record, Megan can throw any book at me, any time. Just as long as it's not one of those heirloom hundred-pound Bibles. That would hurt.
Drinking is Caroline Knapp's sobriety memoir. In vivid technicolor detail, she describes how she went from a casual drinker to a full-fledged alcoholic who was drinking every day, and in secret – even had booze stashed behind the toilets and whatnot at the homes of family and friends. She would obsess and live her day as if the whole point was to get drunk.
Ms. Knapp is what she calls a "high functioning alcoholic." She was a writer for a magazine who made it to work every day, paid her bills, and managed to accomplish all of that other life stuff. Even though she was "high functioning," every relationship in her life was a mess. Mom, her two boyfriends (who didn't know about each other), dad, friends, drinking friends – you name it, there was friction because of her drinking. The irony, however, is she couldn't handle being with any of them unless she was drinking.
After a bunch of years (I forget exactly how many), Caroline Knapp decides she's had enough and ends her love affair with The Drink. So she checks herself into rehab, makes the commitment to quit for good, and writes this book. I believe she was sober three years when the book was written.
Here's what I found most interesting: Knapp discovers the difference between casual drinkers and alcoholics. She discovers that alcoholics drink to avoid life, and specifically, to avoid any pain associated with life. Alcoholics choose to drink in lieu of facing their many life choices, mistakes, sorrows, and moments of cozy good. They are uncomfortable in their own skin and drink to avoid feeling themselves in that skin.
Ultimately, she realizes that while she's chasing three bottles of wine with a pint of cognac, she's robbing her life of progress. Every time she sideswipes the looking of life right between the eyes by getting drunk, she's stunting her individual growth.
I had never seen or heard addiction explained this way. I found it rather eye opening. Parts of life include pain. And pain usually makes one grow stronger. I suppose it's best just to deal with the pain so as to recover and grow strong. Kinda like when weight lifters bench press and stuff like that.
I'm not a drinker now. I'm a full-fledged abstainer. However, I have this personality that does not stop. Once I start something, be it study, or spending money, or (hullo!) running, I cannot stop. Therefore it would be in my life-growth's best interest to remain an abstainer.
p.s. Megan said to "pass the book on." Anyone care to read it next?