In a previous post we wrote about the importance of reading in the recovery process, so when we saw the words reading for recovery in a New York Times book review headline we were intrigued. The review was for a collection of excerpts, poems and quotes gathered together in Out Of This Wreck I Rise – A Literary Companion To Recovery by Neil Steinberg and Sara Bader. The title, a quote from Robert Browning’s poem Ixion, about a mythological king bound to a wheel in Hell, whirling forever in torment is powerful and poignant. The selection of literary extracts, philosophical thoughts and artistic interpretations of our relationship with alcohol, and journey to recovery is at times funny, sometimes sad and frequently bitter sweet.
From Seneca to David Foster Wallace, William Shakespeare to Patti Smith and the ruminations of notorious drinkers like John Cheever, Charles Bukowski, and Ernest Hemingway the book tells the story of the difficult process of becoming sober ever reminding the reader that while the literary alcoholic is often romanticised, recovery is the true path of the hero.
John Cheever, John Berryman and Raymond Carver rub shoulders with Plato and Keith Richards, Hemingway, Jack London and Anais Nin bump up against Emily Dickinson and a whole lot more.
Steinberg knows the road, his book, Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life (2008) begins with his coming to in a jail cell as a result of assaulting his wife whilst drunk. It is a true confessional, full of denial, anger, sorrow and of course makes great reading for recovery.
“This book is terrific. A recovery plan that summons not a Higher Power but a higher intellectual power. The sort of book I’ve been waiting for all my life: rational help for the writer, the reader, the skeptic, the thinker.” Gene Weingarten, Fiddler in the Subway, Pulitzer Prize winner.