Why do we consider substance abuse to be interesting, while sobriety is an uninviting subject? Going beyond memoir, Leslie Jamison deftly explores the stories we tell about addiction—both her own and others'—examining what we want these narratives 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, noting here the bearing that race and class have on our understanding of who is a criminal and who merely needs help. Jamison's book is also an ongoing conversation with artists whose lives and works were shaped by alcoholism and substance dependence, including Billie Holiday, Raymond Carver, Jean Rhys, Denis Johnson, and David Foster Wallace.
"The breadth of Jamison's knowledge on this subject is impressive…. The writing is beautiful…. 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