I've read quite a few memoirs of addiction and this is one of the better ones. It is a compelling and well-told story of Irish immigrant Colin Broderick, who came to the US in the late 1980s and remains here today, having survived his own chronic and acute alcoholism and the hideous problems that resulted from it.
Broderick repeatedly says that he aspired to be a writer, but it is clear that he gave top priority to drinking rather than putting in the effort required to actually get published. His account seems searingly honest and it is apparent that there is something within him that compelled him to be high at all costs. And his drinking and drugging cost him a lot -- two marriages and several relationships, ties with friends and family, houses, cars, jobs, a bookstore business and lots and lots of cash. Somehow he managed to clean himself up and, at least at the time this book was published, he remains sober.
I like to imagine that Broderick's character comes through in his writing and, assuming that's true, he seems like a guy who is decent at the core. His writing reveals a quality that makes one want to root for his success. There are some pretty appalling situations detailed in his book and Broderick certainly did a lot of shameful things, but he does have the courage to own up to his own shortcomings. Plus, his "drunk-a-log" is at points hilarious and thus an entertaining read overall. I am hoping he is able to resist the temptation to drink again and that he continues to publish in the future.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
Bonnie McEwan (BonnieMcEwan)
I own a communications consultancy in NYC called MAKE WAVES, which serves nonprofit organizations and foundations. I also hold a Visiting Lecturer position at Milano: The New School for Management & … more
Consider the Source
Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.
Guest Interview: Colum McCann Talks with Colin Broderick
Colum McCannis the internationally bestselling author of the novelsZoli,Dancer,This Side of Brightness, andSongdogs, as well as two critically acclaimed story collections. A contributor toThe New Yorker,The New York Times Magazine,The Atlantic Monthly, andThe Paris Review, he has been named one ofEsquire’s "Best and Brightest," and his short filmEverything in This Country Mustwas nominated for an Oscar in 2005. His 2009 novel,Let the Great World Spin, won the 2009 National Book Award for Fiction, and was selected as Amazon.com's Best Book of 2009. Read his interview with Colin Broderick onOrangutan:
Colum McCann: The book starts with a warning: "This is not a very pleasant story... and if you don’t like it, I don’t care." There’s a fury in this book that I found really honest.
Colin Broderick: You’re right about that, Colum. I was on the last rung of the ladder when I started this book. I knew if I didn’t come out fighting with this one, I was done for. Desperation has been a great motivator for me over the past three years.
Colum McCann: The first time I met you was about twelve years ago at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square. You handed me a manuscript and asked me to read it. You had a fire in your eyes that suggested you were never going to give up. I think at the time you told me it was your second novel. How many did you write before you finally managed to see something in ...