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Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life

2 Ratings: 4.5
A memoir about rehab by Neil Steinberg

 Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg loved his job, his wife, and his two young sons. But he also loved to drink. Drunkard is an unflinchingly honest account of one man's descent into alcoholism and his ambivalent struggle … see full wiki

Author: Neil Steinberg
Genre: Biography
Publisher: Plume
Date Published: May 26, 2009
1 review about Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life

Heartbreaking...But Spectacular Memoir of an Alcoholic

  • Sep 2, 2009
  • by
OK, here's the deal. I'm a guy...a very manly guy (as you should now know from a recent review). And while the differences between men and women has been pointed out ad nauseum since the beginning of time...it's probably worth it to go over one. I've found out through my lengthy life experience that women like to watch movies and read books that make them cry. They LIKE being forced to emote sadness. This is something I will never understand. True, I get sad when the Terminator lowers himself into a vat of lava after losing his arm to defend his friend. But that's acceptable because the rest of the movie is spent blowing things up and shooting a shotgun point blank at the T1000 (which is hilarious). See the difference? My point is that there are very few times when a guy can enjoy something that is intended to make them sad. One of the exceptions is when a movie or book is so well made/written that you are willing to look past the emotions you feel in order to experience spectacular art. This book is one of those situations.

Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life by Neil Steinberg is a spectacularly written memoir about Stenberg's struggle with alcoholism.  Steinberg is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, so you know going into it that it will be well written.  What I didn't expect was the brutal honesty that came in these pages.  In fact, at times it was difficult to read.

The book starts in prison, which is where Steinberg spent a night after slapping his wife during a fight.  He was, as usual, very drunk.  The rest of the book follows his path through court forced Alcoholics Anonymous meetings...and his struggle to not drink.

This book is very powerful and sad because it is hard to watch Steinberg go through the pain of being a recovering alcoholic...and to see him fail again and again and again.  It is sad to read about him pulling empty Jack Daniels out of the garbage to inhale the vapors.  It is sad to read about him leaving his kids in the house alone so he can drive to the convenience store to buy some booze.  It is sad to read his fights with his wife as she tries to help him get better.  It is sad to read the total desperation that inhabits these pages.

Of course, the book ends up on a positive note.  He stops drinking...for good.  But that is not what this book is about.  This book is about the fight and the torment of fighting alcoholism.  I have never personally experienced anyone going against this....thank God.  I have, of course, read about it and talked to other people who have...and it always sounds so terrible.  I imagine if there are people going through that right now, this book could be helpful.

If you like to read great writing, this is a book that you must check out.  Like me, you may be sad when you finish this book, but that's OK...because just like Terminator 2, it's OK to be sad when experiencing great art.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Cover of Drunkard

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September 04, 2009
Great review!  By the sound of the title, this seems like it would be a crude, gritty book already, and your review affirms that.  The author is an admirable person for being able to admit his faults so candidly.  Have you read James Frey's A Million Little Pieces?  Seems to have the same theme going on.
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