Recovering (Jamison) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Extraordinary.… [S]he 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 - New York Times


Fascinating…energetic, colorful, fun, buzzy, affecting, and spot-on.… Emotional, as well as factual, honesty is the sine qua non of a memoir. Yet this kind of deep honesty—the merciless self-examination and exposure that Jamison displays--is increasingly rare.
Melanie Thernstrom - New York Times Book Review


Brilliant.…  [I]t's as if Jamison has shrugged off her restraints.… We are aware, most fundamentally, of her urgency. This, of course, is as it should be, for Jamison is writing to survive.… The Recovering leaves us with the sense of a writer intent on holding nothing back.
David L. Ulin - Los Angeles Times


Jamison's story makes for riveting reading.… Desire and romantic love are major themes, explored with aching vulnerability and unsparing honesty.… Jamison shows us the human animal in all its wildness, its messiness, and its failure.…  Quite on its own terms, The Recovering is a beautifully told example of the considered and self-aware becoming art.
Priscilla Gilman - Boston Globe


Jamison's ardent writing style and extended-release doses of empathy have made her a consistently powerful journalist.… Ambitious, provocative, lyrical.
New York Magazine


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


A remarkable feat.… Shot through with real yearning.… The Recovering seamlessly blends the story of Jamison's own alcoholism and subsequent recovery with something like a social, cultural, and literary history of addiction.… It's a neat trick: Jamison satisfies readers who want the grisly details that addiction memoirs promise while dismantling that same genre, interrogating why tales of addiction prove so resonant.… She is a bracing smart writer; her sentences wind and snake, at turns breathless and tense. .… Instead of solving the mystery of why she drank, she does something worthier, digging underneath the big emptiness that lives inside every addict to find something profound.
Sam Lansky - Time


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 crawl back up to sobriety is as engrossing as the downward spiral in this unsparing and luminous.… 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


Jamison's questing immersion in intoxication and sobriety is exceptional in its vivid, courageous, hypnotic telling; brilliant in its subtlety of perception, interpretation, and compassion; and capacious in its scholarship, scale, concern, and mission
Booklist


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 Reviews

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