Intoxication and Its Aftermath
in conversation with JAMES WOOD
This event includes a book signing
April 5, 2018
Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store and the Cambridge Public Library welcome LESLIE JAMISON—the bestselling author of The Empathy Exams—for a discussion of her latest book, The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath. She will be joined in conversation by acclaimed writer and literary critic JAMES WOOD.
Seating is limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis. Seating and elevator access to the Lecture Hall (located on level L2) will begin at 6pm.
A 70-car underground parking garage with access from Broadway is available when the library is open.
About The Recovering
With its deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and reportage, The Recovering 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 deftly 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.
At the heart of the book is Jamison's ongoing conversation with literary and artistic geniuses whose lives and works were shaped by alcoholism and substance dependence, including John Berryman, Jean Rhys, Billie Holiday, Raymond Carver, Denis Johnson, and David Foster Wallace, as well as brilliant lesser-known figures such as George Cain, lost to obscurity but newly illuminated here. Through its unvarnished relation of Jamison's own ordeals, The Recovering also becomes a book about a different kind of dependency: the way our desires can make us all, as she puts it, "broken spigots of need." It's about the particular loneliness of the human experience-the craving for love that both devours us and shapes who we are.
For her striking language and piercing observations, Jamison has been compared to such iconic writers as Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, yet her utterly singular voice also offers something new. With enormous empathy and wisdom, Jamison has given us nothing less than the story of addiction and recovery in America writ large, a definitive and revelatory account that will resonate for years to come.
"Leslie Jamison has written an honest and important book. It will be important to recovering alcoholics who wonder if there really is life after booze, and I think it will be important to writers and critics, because she weaves her story of recovery into those of other artists (mostly writers, but also Billie Holiday and Amy Winehouse) who also made the jump from soused to sober. And some who didn't. The most important thematic thread may be its insistence that the talented artist who needs booze or drugs to support his work and withstand his own vision does not, in fact, exist. It's important to debunk what Todd Rundgren called 'the ever popular tortured artist effect.' All in all, vivid writing and required reading." ―Stephen King
"Leslie Jamison's The Recovering is a definitive investigation of both the romance of intoxication and the possibilities for recovery. Whether interviewing veterans of a communal rehab house, digging through the archives of alcoholic writers, or examining her own motives and thoughts, Jamison shows ways of living alongside contradictions without diminishing their confusion and pain. Graceful, forensic, and intimate, The Recovering sets a new bar in addiction studies. It is a courageous and brilliant example of what nonfiction writing can do." ―Chris Kraus
"The Recovering is beautifully written, brutally honest, formidably intelligent, emotionally powerful, and absolutely fascinating. Leslie Jamison captured my attention in the very first sentence and didn't let it go for a second until—with reluctance—I finished the very last. Addiction literature has just welcomed a new classic." ―Anne Fadiman
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