The Recovering

The Recovering

Intoxication and Its Aftermath

“An honest and important book . . . Vivid writing and required reading.”–Stephen King

“A Tolstoyan study of the human condition.”–Andrew Solomon

One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2018: Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue, Elle, Newsday, The Millions, Huffington Post, Nylon, Bustle, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Bitch, The Rumpus, Buzzfeed, Boston Globe, The Week

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams, a transformative work showing that sometimes the recovery is more gripping than the addiction

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.

Read More

Genre: Nonfiction / Psychology / Psychopathology / Addiction

On Sale: April 3rd 2018

Price: $15.99

Page Count: 544

ISBN-13: 9780316259620

What's Inside

Read More Read Less

Praise

"Jamison turned heads with The Empathy Exams, her 2014 best-selling collection of insightful, Didionesque essays, and this new book, which blends her memoir of recovery with cultural history, can only add to her growing literary reputation."
Paul S. Makishima, The Boston Globe
"Leslie Jamison's forthcoming 544-page door-stopper, The Recovering, promises the same blend of memoir, reportage, and cultural history as her excellent 2014 collection of essays, The Empathy Exams. In The Recovering, Jamison details the ups and downs of her own struggles with alcohol. Looking to famous alcoholic writers, Jamison additionally battles her fear of the boredom of sobriety, describing it with arresting, brutal honesty. This is so much more than an "addiction memoir" -- it is the work of a singular voice at the top of her game."—Jeva Lange, The Week
Advance praise for The Recovering:

"Leslie Jamison's poignant The Recovering is part memoir and part history, a careful investigation of addiction and recovery stories, including Jamison's own and those of iconic figures in the arts, and of the culture and treatment of alcoholism in the US. Thoughtful, fiercely honest and intimate, The Recovering is a must-read that is Jamison at her best."
Jarry Lee, Buzzfeed
"Using a blend of memoir, investigative reporting, and literary criticism, Jamison deftly tells a new narrative about recovery, the history of recovery, the criminalization of addiction, and more."—Liberty Hardy, Book Riot
"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 writes about the highs of dependency and also about the highs of recovery. Her prose is so sharp and evocative that the reader feels the thrilling trickle of alcohol down the back of the throat, and breathes the struggle for health and freedom. Jamison demonstrates great wit, penetrating intellect, and an enormous heart. This strangely exhilarating book is about recovery, but it is more resonantly a book about desire, consciousness, kindness, self-control, and love--and hence a Tolstoyan study of the human condition."

Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of Far From the Tree and The Noonday Demon
"Leslie Jamison has done a magnificent job of rescuing an age-old social problem from the clichés that surround it, and making us see it anew for the cruel assault on the human spirit that it really is."—Vivian Gornick, author of Fierce Attachments and The Odd Woman and the City
"You don't need to be an addict to be enthralled by The Recovering. This book is for anyone interested in a dazzlingly brilliant, uncommonly compassionate, and often hilarious study of human nature. Leslie Jamison's work will definitely make you feel smarter--I'd like to borrow her brain to pick a fight with a couple of people--but The Recovering also reads like a gripping mystery as written by a subversive and deeply passionate philosopher. Her writing is unexpected, profound, and perverse--in short, a thrill to read. Best of all, for a writer so gifted at locating the excruciating commonalities of isolation, Jamison manages this greatest feat of magic: when I read her words, I come away feeling less alone."
Mary-Louise Parker, author of New York Times bestseller Dear Mr. You
"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, author of I Love Dick
"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, National Book Critics Circle Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
The crawl back up to sobriety is as engrossing as the downward spiral in this unsparing and luminous autobiographical study of alcoholism...The dark humor, evocative prose, and clear-eyed, heartfelt insights Jamison deploys here only underscore her reputation as a writer of fearsome talent.—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Throughout Jamison's somber yet earnestly revelatory narrative, she remains cogent and true to her dual commitment to sobriety and to author a unique memoir "that was honest about the grit and bliss and tedium of learning to live this way--in chorus, without the numbing privacy of getting drunk." The bracing, unflinching, and beautifully resonant history of a writer's addiction and hard-won reclamation."—Kirkus
Praise for THE EMPATHY EXAMS:

"Extraordinary. . . . she calls to mind writers as disparate as Joan Didion and John Jeremiah Sullivan as she interrogates the palpitations of not just her own trippy heart but of all of ours. . . . Her cerebral, witty, multichambered essays tend to swing around to one topic in particular: what we mean when we say we feel someone else's pain. . . . I'm not sure I'm capable of recommending a book because it might make you a better person. But watching the philosopher in Ms. Jamison grapple with empathy is a heart-expanding exercise."—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"Extraordinary and exacting. . . . This capacity for critical thinking, for a kind of cool skepticism that never gives way to the chilly blandishments of irony, is very rare. It's not surprising that Jamison is drawing comparisons to Sontag. . . . There is a glory to this kind of writing that derives as much from its ethical generosity, the palpable sense of stretch and reach, as it does from the lovely vividness of the language itself. . . . It's hard to imagine a stronger, more thoughtful voice emerging this year."—The New York Times Book Review
"In The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison positions herself in one fraught subject position after the next: tourist in the suffering of others, guilt-ridden person of privilege, keenly intelligent observer distrustful of pure cleverness, reclaimer and critic of female suffering, to name but a few. She does so in order to probe her endlessly important and difficult subject--empathy, for the self and for others--a subject this whirling collection of essays turns over rock after rock to explore. Its perambulations are wide-ranging; its
attentiveness to self and others, careful and searching; its open heart, true."
Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts and Bluets
"Leslie Jamison has written a profound exploration into how empathy deepens us, yet how we unwittingly sabotage our own capacities for it. We care because we are porous, she says. Pain is at once actual and constructed, feelings are made based on how you speak them. This riveting book will make you a better writer, a better human."
Mary Karr, author of Lit and The Liars' Club
"THE EMPATHY EXAMS is a book without an anaesthetic, a work of tremendous pleasure and tremendous pain. Leslie Jamison is alternately surgeon, midwife, psychiatrist, radiologist, and nurse-and in all these things she is fiercely intelligent, fiercely compassionate, and fiercely, prodigiously brave. This is the essay at its creative, philosophical best."—Eleanor Catton
"Leslie Jamison threads her fine mind through the needle of emotion, sewing our desire to feel to our fear of feeling, piercing pain and sweetness."—Eula Biss
"If reading a book about [pain] sounds . . . painful, rest assured that Jamison writes with such originality and humor, and delivers such scalpel-sharp insights, that it's more like a rush of pleasure. . . . To articulate suffering with so much clarity, and so little judgement, is to turn pain into art."
Entertainment Weekly
"Jamison writes with sober precision and unusual vulnerability, with a tendency to circle back and reexamine, to deconstruct and anticipate the limits of her own perspective, and a willingness to make her own medical and psychological history the objects of her examinations. Her insights are often piercing and poetic."
The New Yorker
"[The Empathy Exams] deserves as big an audience as it can get. At 30, [Jamison] could be a granddaughter of Joan Didion and Susan Sontag, whose nonfiction debuts first stirred up readers nearly half a century ago. They set a daunting standard for the power of alert nerves, in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and of fierce thoughts, in Against Interpretation. The Empathy Exams is their
descendant, yet Jamison's blend of wit and brainy warmth is completely distinctive."
The Atlantic
"A virtuosic manifesto of human pain. . . . Jamison stitches together the intellectual and the emotional with the finesse of a crackerjack surgeon. . . . The result is a soaring perfomance on the humanizing effects of empathy."
NPR