The Recovering by Leslie Jamison, novelist, columnist, bestselling essayist and assistant professor at Columbia University, makes for bracing reading. Clever, bold, earnest and sometimes maddening, it is chiefly an account of the author’s alcohol addiction and the various stages of her recovery. It is also an examination of the lives and works, in so far as they pertain to drugs and alcohol, of ‘addicts of extraordinary talent’, such as Jean Rhys, John Berryman, Billie Holliday and David Foster Wallace.
The book is an investigation of how Alcoholics Anonymous operates, its strengths and challenges, the leanings of its founders and a roll call of some of its members who’ve touched the author’s life. It is the story of a three-year romance between the author and her hard-to-fathom love interest ‘Dave’, a man who takes so long to mix a cocktail that you wonder if you might have a drink while waiting for your drink.