Writers on the Edge: 22 Writers Speak About Addiction and Dependency edited by Diana M. Raab and James Brown

Source: Modern History Press
Paperback, 185 pages
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Writers on the Edge: 22 Writers Speak About Addiction and Dependency edited by Diana M. Raab and James Brown is a collection of essays, memories, poems, and stories about addiction and dependency, but more than that they are harrowing experiences of surviving with addiction and dependency and the continuous struggle that dogs these writers throughout their lives.  Most, if not all, of these essays are frank and honest about the vacillation between lying about an addiction and being honest about it and confronting it.  The poems are similar in that way.  From alcoholism to suicide and depression as well as overeating addictions, these writers share the struggle with themselves, each other, their readers, and sometimes even their families.  “These writers were more often than not, perps–their own or somebody else’s.  It’s roughly akin to reading a recollection of Nagasaki survivors by people who dropped the bomb on themselves,” says Jerry Stahl in the Foreword.

There are perfect examples in these writers’ lives of what addiction can lead to, and there are examples of friends who successfully killed themselves that haunt these writers and scare them to keep away from their addictions.  But even the scariest moments in these addicts lives may not be enough to stave off addictions for long, while there are times when addiction is held at arms length for a longer period of time, there are always moments of weakness around the corner.  What these writers strive to illustrate through these essays is that life and addiction go hand in hand, and some addictions may be more destructive than others, but it is when they become obsessions that people can lose control of themselves and lose all that they have and love.

From John Amen's "23":

... Jul called an ambulance,
and I came to in intensive care, sunlight flooding
through barred windows, tubes flowing like power lines.
I'd been here before, each survival bolstering some
myth of invincibility, but this time I knew I was treading

Clarity is the moment when each addict learns that they are addicts and that they must do something differently or die. “The language of poetry is the means by which one human consciousness speaks most intimately, directly, and precisely to others. Yet it is also an empty mirror, if I tell the truth of what I see,” says Chase Twichell in “Toys in the Attic.” More than a look at the addiction that has shaped these writers, this volume offers lessons and examples of struggle and includes an appendix of organizations and support groups to help those who need it.  Writers on the Edge: 22 Writers Speak About Addiction and Dependency edited by Diana M. Raab and James Brown is heartbreaking and inspiring, with selections that echo off one another to shout the louder truth of surviving addiction — it is a never ending process that must be undertaken every day, every hour, and at every moment.

Mailbox Monday #218

HAPPY EASTER to those who celebrate!

As tomorrow is the kick-off of National Poetry Month, I’m posting this meme early, and it may be on hiatus for the rest of the month until the blog tour is over.

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. April’s host is Mari Reads.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received for review:

1.  Writers on the Edge:  22 Writers Speak About Addiction and Dependency edited by Diana M. Raab and James Brown from Modern History Press for review.

Writers On The Edge offers a range of essays, memoirs and poetry written by major contemporary authors who bring fresh insight into the dark world of addiction, from drugs and alcohol, to sex, gambling and food. Editors Diana M. Raab and James Brown have assembled an array of talented and courageous writers who share their stories with heartbreaking honesty as they share their obsessions as well as the awe-inspiring power of hope and redemption.

CONTRIBUTORS: Frederick & Steven Barthelme, Kera Bolonik, Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Maud Casey, Anna David, Denise Duhamel, B.H. Fairchild, Ruth Fowler, David Huddle Perie Longo, Gregory Orr, Victoria Patterson, Molly Peacock, Scott Russell Sanders, Stephen Jay Schwartz, Linda Gray Sexton, Sue William Silverman, Chase Twichell, and Rachel Yoder.

2.  Unexplained Fevers by Jeannine Hall Gailey for review from the poet.

“Unexplained Fevers plucks the familiar fairy tale heroines and drops them into alternate landscapes. Unlocking them from the old stories is a way to “rescue the other half of [their] souls.” And so Sleeping Beauty arrives at the emergency room, Red Riding Hood reaches the car dealership, and Rapunzel goes wandering in the desert – their journeys, re-imagined in this inventive collection of poems, produce other dangers, betrayals and nightmares, but also bring forth great surprise and wonder.” – Rigoberto González, author of Black Blossoms “Unexplained Fevers begins with that most familiar of phrases, “Once upon a time,” but the world we find inside these covers is deeply defamiliarized. Trapped by physical ills, cultural expectations, and the constraints of marriage, these heroines interrogate the world and propel themselves through it with cunning and sass. We follow, for example, Jack and Jill though a prose poem where they “somehow turned thirty without thunderous applause,” after having sworn they “would follow each other anywhere, but anywhere turned out to be a lot like Ohio.” At the center of these poems – urgent, mysterious, evocative – we find the great topic of all fairy tales, transformation. Read Unexplained Fevers, and be transformed.” – Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Unmentionables.

What did you receive?