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Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp

Drinking: A Love Story (edition 1997)

by Caroline Knapp

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921229,529 (3.91)27
Title:Drinking: A Love Story
Authors:Caroline Knapp
Info:Dial Press Trade Paperback (1997), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:Memoir, Case Studies, Alcoholism, Women

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Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp


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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I wanted to love Drinking: A Love Story, I really did, for a lot of reasons:

  • A friend lent it to me with a glowing re
    view and she generally has great taste.

  • I am a recovering alcoholic and am generally interested in books about recovery.

  • I like a good memoir.

All of these reasons should have led to a knockout reading experience but for this seemingly winning equation just didn't add up for me.

I can see why many people would love this book, and why it would be important to many people. The author is a drunk and the memoir follows her through the last few years of her drinking into the first few years of sobriety.

I appreciated the way Knapp compared getting sober with ending a relationship. It was true for me - I had a much stronger relationship with alcohol than I did with any human being the last few years of my drinking. And even though it was literally killing me, and I knew I would get nothing out of my life if I didn't quit, I still grieved the loss of it. I imagine it's similar to someone getting out of a bad marriage. They know it's bad, they know it's better to be out of it, but that doesn't mean it's easy or that their feelings aren't complicated. Knapp did a good job of portraying that particular part of getting sober, which, in my experience, is one of the more baffling things for non-alcoholics to understand.

The writing was fine. It wasn't amazing but it didn't really get in the way either. When I finished the book and researched Knapp I was not surprised to learn that she'd written extensively for many women's magazines. Her writing had a sort of cheesy, overly simplified, repetitive quality that didn't make me want to throw the book across the room or anything, but wasn't particularly appealing either.

I can see why many people found this book fascinating and insightful, but it wasn't for me. I've been sober for a little over three years and the entire time I read this I kept wondering if I would have felt differently about this book if I'd read it in my first year of sobriety. To me it was just another alcoholic telling their story. I hear stories exactly like this every week and they're important for me to hear, and I care deeply for the stories I hear, but when reading cold words on a page it just didn't get to me.

I also wasn't sure how I felt about her writing the thing in the first place. People who aren't familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous often think that the Anonymous part means we can't disclose the fact that we're in recovery. My interpretation is that it means A) we must respect the anonymity of others, which basically means if I see someone from a meeting out in the wild I won't let whoever they're with, or I'm with, for that matter, know they're in the program and B) as the traditions state, "remain anonymous at the level of press, radio, and film." I think writing a book about it falls under "press?" That's my feeling, at least.

As I understand it, the reason that tradition exists is because there are about a billion different ways for people to interpret AA - and not a single one of them is correct. One of the strengths of the program is that everyone can work their program the way they see fit. When a person in the public eye starts talking about what AA is like, they're not actually talking about what it's like - they're talking about what it's like for them. This is problematic, in my opinion. I don't like one person giving AA lessons to the world at large, which is largely what this book felt like to me.

So! As you can see, my own personal biases played a big role in my feelings on this book. If it's someone's first experience hearing the story of a person getting sober then it may be more interesting. I think if I'd read it in my first year or so of sobriety, when I wanted as many stories as I could get, it may have had more of an impact. As it was, it felt tedious to get through this thing and I was grateful when I finally finished it. ( )
  agnesmack | Nov 19, 2015 |
Journalist Caroline Knapp grew up in a well-to-do but emotionally distant home, close but never comfortable with her psychoanalyst father. She relates the progression of her alcoholism, her overlapping and related addictive patterns (anorexia and body image, unhealthy relationships and infidelity), and her eventual recovery through AA.
  AlcoholLibrary | Oct 30, 2015 |
It is difficult to ready any story about a fall from grace, especially one written as honestly and bluntly as Caroline Knapp's. The story winds its way around different out-of-control drinking; when Knapp drank, why she thought she drank so much, the people she affected with her drinking, all the denials along the way. At times her stories seemed repetitive and meandering but that perception comes from the why of it all. Knapp was clearly in pain and had trouble rationalizing her rage. She brought two points home: you don't need to have suffered a trauma to become addicted to anything and once you recognize your problem, your addiction is never again a normalized behavior. In the world of alcohol, most people think nothing of having a cocktail with friends, a beer after work. All of that became off limits to Knapp once she accepted her addiction. It is clear Knapp had an addictive personality. She was drawn to obsessions and performed rituals while drinking, rituals about food consumption to the point of anorexia, rituals in how she fought with her boyfriends. Even after sobriety, Knapp was drawn to obsessions concerning cleanliness and being constantly aware of how large a role alcohol plays in our society. Even the words "champagne bunch" grated on her abstinence. In the end, Knapp was resolved to take one day at a time. She couldn't set large goals for herself while her drinking was larger than her resolve. She was smart to know that every day was a major victory. Her story ends unresolved but hopeful. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Dec 17, 2014 |
Well written story of the author's descent into alcoholism and her achievement of sobriety. Great insights about the dynamics of addiction and of recovery through institutional treatment and active and continuing participation in Alcoholics Anonymous. ( )
  dickmanikowski | Sep 28, 2014 |
Caroline Knapp was a gifted writer, and the story of her struggle with alcohol is beautifully told. ( )
  dysmonia | Apr 15, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Caroline Knappprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mijn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385315546, Paperback)

The roots of alcoholism in the life of a brilliant daughter of an upper-class family are explored in this stylistic, literary memoir of drinking by a Massachusetts journalist. Caroline Knapp describes how the distorted world of her well-to-do parents pushed her toward anexoria and then alcoholism. Fittingly, it was literature that saved her: She found inspiration in Pete Hamill's A Drinking Life and sobered up. Her tale is spiced with the characters she's known along the way.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"It happened this way: I fell in love and then, because the love was ruining everything I cared about, I had to fall out." So begins Drinking: A Love Story, journalist Caroline Knapp's brave and powerful memoir of her twenty years as a functioning alcoholic. Knapp writes that she loved liquor the way she loved bad men and, like all tragic love stories, hers is a tale of seduction and betrayal, a testament to the alluring but ultimately destructive powers of addiction. Fifteen million Americans a year are afflicted with the disease of alcoholism. Five million of them are women. Caroline Knapp, for example, started drinking at age fourteen. She drank through her years at an Ivy League college, through an award-winning career as a lifestyle editor and columnist. Publicly she was a dutiful daughter, attentive friend, sophisticated professional. Privately she was drinking herself into oblivion, trapped in love relationships that continued to undermine her self-esteem - until a series of personal crises forced her to confront and ultimately break free of the "liquid armor" she'd used to shield herself from the complicated battles of growing up. Caroline Knapp's ruthless self-examination, moral courage, and singular ability as a writer inform this remarkable memoir with many new insights about alcoholism, but more important, with many profound insights about life.… (more)

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