I love a memoir. It’s one of my all time favorite genres, and I read it obsessively. Yet, within the genre, I’ve noticed that I tend to read two fairly specific types of memoirs, memoirs by women with hard knock lives and memoirs by drunk writers.
Is the Universe trying to tell me something? Undoubtedly, so I hope I’m listening.
Books by Drunk Writers
Books by drunk writers share basically the same, painful story. People drink because they are filling a hole, whatever it might be. Boredom, insecurity, self-loathing, relationship problems, bad childhoods, bad adulthoods, bad jobs, life in general. And while most people, like you, can drink and then stop after a few, there are some people, I’m not saying me but I’m also not not saying me, drink and then (maybe) stop after 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 glasses of whatever you’re pouring (but then who’s counting, I’m having a great time!).
Those, my friends, are the authors of these books. Those are the drunk writers I read. They are the ones who drink until there is no more wine in the bottle, then no more bottles in the rack. They are the ones who drink for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are the ones who drink with no one and with anyone. They are the ones who hide bottles and then swear they will stop the insanity. Tomorrow.
Those F*cked Up Drunk Writers
When you are reading all these alcohol-fueled exploits, you may think, “Good goddess. I’m not anything like that person, so I must not have a problem” or “I can’t relate to that” or “What is wrong with them?!”
If that’s your response, then great. I’m glad you’ve never blacked out or driven drunk or made a total fool of yourself in front of people you know (and don’t know), because those things totally suck and are not good for anyone.
I Am (the metaphorical) Drunk Writer!
But if you’re a human being who has lived any amount of time, you know that there’s really not much separating you from every other poor, lost soul on the planet. We just manifest our pain and problems in different ways.
So, despite that I have greatly curtailed my drinking in the last 6 months, I see myself in each and every one of these drunk writers. I recognize their pain and their desire to numb it. I get them, and I get it.
I guess that’s why I am so drawn to these memoirs. Because drunk writers talk about their hurt and their shame. And, in doing so, they make themselves vulnerable. Their sharing and vulnerability help me know myself better. Their sharing and vulnerability help me heal. And then I don’t feel like I have to carry around all my own pain and shame.
So, thank you, drunk writers.
Some Memoirs I’ve Read by Drunk Writers
In no particular order
- Lit: A Memoir (P.S.) by Mary Karr
- Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs
- Sober Stick Figure* by Amber Tozer
- Parched: A Memoir by Heather King
- Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife by Brenda Wilhemson
- Mommy Doesn’t Drink Here Anymore: Getting Through the First Year of Sobriety by Rachael Brownell
- Drinking: A Love Story* by Caroline Knapp
- Drunk Mom: A Memoir by Jowita Bydlowska
- Drink: The Intimate Relationship between Women and Alcohol* by Ann Dowsett Johnston
- Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink and How They Can Regain Control by Gabrielle Glaser
*Tozer is a comic; this book is laugh out loud funny (and still depressing, because she is a drunk after all). The book by Caroline Knapp is a really honest and exceedingly well written memoir, and Drink is a good balance of the research and one woman’s story. So those are my top 3 picks.