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.
"Open to any piece in this collection, and the scalding, unflinching, overwhelming truths within will shine light on places most people never look. Anyone who reads this book, be they users or used, will put it down changed. And when they raise their eyes from the very last page, the world they see may be redeemed,
as well." --Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
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
About the Editors
Diana M. Raab, an award-winning memoirist and poet, is author of six books including Healing With Words and Regina's Closet. She's an advocate of the healing power of writing and teaches nation-wide workshops and in the UCLA
Extension Writers' Program.
James Brown, a recovering alcoholic and addict, is the author of the memoirs,
The Los Angeles Diaries and This River. He is Professor of English in the MFA
Program in Creative Writing at California State University, San Bernardino.
From the Reflections of America Series
Modern History Press www.ModernHistoryPress.com
SEL006000 Self-Help : Substance Abuse & Addictions - Alcoholism
SEL003000 Self-Help : Adult Children of Alcoholics
PSY038000 Psychology : Psychopathology - Addiction
|Publisher:||Loving Healing Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.47(d)|
Read an Excerpt
WRITING FOR LIFE
On the edge he signs his name with a skid mark voice a hollow drum willow without stretch of deer skin to bring the rain.
Having been on the edge ourselves,
He writes in such a jumble
no one understands but that's the whole idea.
Last time someone figured it out he was sent down the river
locked in a room full of curve balls.
"I just wanted to stand out," he says slinging up the umbrella of his misfortune.
"As if your nails are trying to hang onto the sky?" I ask (up talk it's called).
He laughs a cry,
UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Scott Russell Sanders
My father drank. He drank as a gut-punched boxer gasps for breath, as a starving dog gobbles food — compulsively, secretly, in pain and trembling. I use the past tense not because he ever quit drinking but because he quit living. That is how the story ends for my father, age sixty-four, heart bursting, body cooling and forsaken on the linoleum of my brother's trailer. The story continues for my brother, my sister, my mother, and me, and it will continue so long as memory holds.
In the perennial present of memory, I slip into the garage or barn to see my father tipping back the flat green bottles of wine, the brown cylinders of whiskey, the cans of beer disguised in paper bags. His Adam's apple bobs, the liquid gurgles, he wipes the sandy-haired back of a hand over his lips, and then, his bloodshot gaze bumping into me, he stashes the bottle or can inside his jacket, under the workbench, between two bales of hay, and we both pretend the moment has not occurred.
"What's up, buddy?" he says, thick-tongued and edgy.
"Sky's up," I answer, playing along.
"And don't forget prices," he grumbles. "Prices are always up. And taxes."
In memory, his white 1951 Pontiac with the stripes down the hood and the Indian head on the snout jounces to a stop in the driveway; or it is the 1956 Ford station wagon, or the 1963 Rambler shaped like a toad, or the sleek 1969 Bonneville that will do 120 miles per hour on straightaways; or it is the robin's-egg blue pickup, new in 1980, battered in 1981, the year of his death. He climbs out, grinning dangerously, unsteady on his legs, and we children interrupt our game of catch, our building of snow forts, our picking of plums, to watch in silence as he weaves past into the house, where he slumps into his overstuffed chair and falls asleep. Shaking her head, our mother stubs out the cigarette he has left smoldering in the ashtray. All evening, until our bedtimes, we tiptoe past him, as past a snoring dragon. Then we curl in our fearful sheets, listening. Eventually he wakes with a grunt, Mother slings accusations at him, he snarls back, she yells, he growls, their voices clashing. Before long, she retreats to their bedroom, sobbing — not from the blows of fists, for he never strikes her, but from the force of words.
Left alone, our father prowls the house, thumping into furniture, rummaging in the kitchen, slamming doors, turning the pages of the newspaper with a savage crackle, muttering back at the late-night drivel from television. The roof might fly off, the walls might buckle from the pressure of his rage. Whatever my brother and sister and mother may be thinking on their own rumpled pillows, I lie there hating him, loving him, fearing him, knowing I have failed him. I tell myself he drinks to ease an ache that gnaws at his belly, an ache I must have caused by disappointing him somehow, a murderous ache I should be able to relieve by doing all my chores, earning A's in school, winning baseball games, fixing the broken washer and the burst pipes, bringing in money to fill his empty wallet. He would not hide the green bottles in his tool box, would not sneak off to the barn with a lump under his coat, would not fall asleep in the daylight, would not roar and fume, would not drink himself to death, if only I were perfect.
I am forty-two as I write these words, and I know full well that my father was an alcoholic, a man consumed by disease rather than by disappointment. What had seemed to me a private grief is in fact a public scourge. In the United States alone, some ten or fifteen million people share his ailment, and behind the doors they slam in fury or disgrace, countless other children tremble. I comfort myself with such knowledge, holding it against the throb of memory like an ice pack against a bruise. There are keener sources of grief: poverty, racism, rape, war. I do not wish to compete for a trophy in suffering. I am only trying to understand the corrosive mixture of helplessness, responsibility, and shame that I learned to feel as theson of an alcoholic. I realize now that I did not cause my father's illness, nor could I have cured it. Yet for all this grown-up knowledge, I am still ten years old, my own son's age, and as that boy I struggle in guilt and confusion to save my father from pain.
Consider a few of our synonyms for drunk: tipsy, tight, pickled, soused, and plowed; stoned and stewed, lubricated and inebriated, juiced and sluiced; three sheets to the wind, in your cups, out of your mind, under the table; lit up, tanked up, wiped out; besotted, blotto, bombed, and buzzed; plastered, polluted, putrefied; loaded or looped, boozy, woozy, fuddled, or smashed; crocked and shit-faced, corked and pissed, snockered and sloshed.
It is a mostly humorous lexicon, as the lore that deals with drunks — in jokes and cartoons, in plays, films, and television skits — is largely comic. Aunt Matilda nips elderberry wine from the sideboard and burps politely during supper. Uncle Fred slouches to the table glassy-eyed, wearing a lampshade for a hat and murmuring, "Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker." Inspired by cocktails, Mrs. Somebody recounts the events of her day in a fuzzy dialect, while Mr. Somebody nibbles her ear and croons a bawdy song. On the sofa with Boyfriend, Daughter giggles, licking gin from her lips, and loosens the bows in her hair. Junior knocks back some brews with his chums at the Leopard Lounge and stumbles home to the wrong house, wonders foggily why he cannot locate his pajamas, and crawls naked into bed with the ugliest girl in school. The family dog slurps from a neglected martini and wobbles to the nursery, where he vomits in Baby's shoe.
It is all great fun. But if in the audience you notice a few laughing faces turn grim when the drunk lurches on stage, don't be surprised, for these are the children of alcoholics. Over the grinning mask of Dionysus, the leering mask of Bacchus, these children cannot help seeing the bloated features of their own parents. Instead of laughing, they wince, they mourn. Instead of celebrating the drunk as one freed from constraints, they pity him as one enslaved. They refuse to believe in vino veritas, having seen their befuddled parents skid away from truth toward folly and oblivion. And so these children bite their lips until the lush staggers into the wings.
My father, when drunk, was neither funny nor honest; he was pathetic, frightening, deceitful. There seemed to be a leak in him somewhere, and he poured in booze to keep from draining dry. Like a torture victim who refuses to squeal, he would never admit that he had touched a drop, not even in his last year, when he seemed to be dissolving in alcohol before our very eyes. I never knew him to lie about anything, ever, except about this one ruinous fact. Drowsy, clumsy, unable to fix a bicycle tire, throw a baseball, balance a grocery sack, or walk across the room, he was stripped of his true self by drink. In a matter of minutes, the contents of a bottle could transform a brave man into a coward, a buddy into a bully, a gifted athlete and skilled carpenter and shrewd businessman into a bumbler. No dictionary of synonyms for drunk would soften the anguish of watching our prince turn into a frog.
Father's drinking became the family secret. While growing up, we children never breathed a word of it beyond the four walls of our house. To this day, my brother and sister rarely mention it, and then only when I press them. I did not confess the ugly, bewildering fact to my wife until his wavering walk and slurred speech forced me to. Recently, on the seventh anniversary of my father's death, I asked my mother if she ever spoke of his drinking to friends. "No, no, never," she replied hastily. "I couldn't bear for anyone to know."
The secret bores under the skin, gets in the blood, into the bone, and stays there. Long after you have supposedly been cured of malaria, the fever can flare up, the tremors can shake you. So it is with the fevers of shame. You swallow the bitter quinine of knowledge, and you learn to feel pity and compassion toward the drinker. Yet the shame lingers in your marrow, and, because of the shame, anger.
For a long stretch of my childhood we lived on a military reservation in Ohio, an arsenal where bombs were stored underground in bunkers and vintage airplanes burst into flames and unstable artillery shells boomed nightly at the dump. We had the feeling, as children, that we played in a minefield, where a heedless footfall could trigger an explosion. When Father was drinking, the house, too, became a minefield. The least bump could set off either parent.
The more he drank, the more obsessed Mother became with stopping him. She hunted for bottles, counted the cash in his wallet, sniffed at his breath. Without meaning to snoop, we children blundered left and right into damning evidence. On afternoons when he came home from work sober, we flung ourselves at him for hugs, and felt against our ribs the telltale lump in his coat. In the barn we tumbled on the hay and heard beneath our sneakers the crunch of buried glass. We tugged open a drawer in his workbench, looking for screwdrivers or crescent wrenches, and spied a gleaming six-pack among the tools. Playing tag, we darted around the house just in time to see him sway on the rear stoop and heave a finished bottle into the woods. In his good night kiss we smelled the cloying sweetness of Clorets, the mints he chewed to camouflage his dragon's breath.
I can summon up that kiss right now by recalling Theodore Roethke's lines about his own father:
The whiskey on your breath Could make a small boy dizzy;
Such waltzing was hard, terribly hard, for with a boy's scrawny arms I was trying to hold my tipsy father upright.
For years, the chief source of those incriminating bottles and cans was a grimy store a mile from us, a cinder block place called Sly's, with two gas pumps outside and a moth-eaten dog asleep in the window. A strip of flypaper, speckled the year round with black bodies, coiled in the doorway. Inside, on rusty metal shelves or in wheezing coolers, you could find pop and Popsicles, cigarettes, potato chips, canned soup, raunchy postcards, fishing gear, Twinkies, wine, and beer. When Father drove anywhere on errands, Mother would send us kids along as guards, warning us not to let him out of our sight. And so with one or more of us on board, Father would cruise up to Sly's, pump a dollar's worth of gas or plump the tires with air, and then, telling us to wait in the car, he would head for that fly-spangled doorway.
Dutiful and panicky, we cried, "Let us go in with you!"
"No," he answered. "I'll be back in two shakes."
"No!" he roared. "Don't you budge, or I'll jerk a knot in your tails!"
So we stayed put, kicking the seats, while he ducked inside. Often, when he had parked the car at a careless angle, we gazed in through the window and saw Mr. Sly fetching down from a shelf behind the cash register two green pints of Gallo wine. Father swigged one of them right there at the counter, stuffed the other in his pocket, and then out he came, a bulge in his coat, a flustered look on his red face.
Because the Mom and Pop who ran the dump were neighbors of ours, living just down the tar-blistered road, I hated them all the more for poisoning my father. I wanted to sneak in their store and smash the bottles and set fire to the place. I also hated the Gallo brothers, Ernest and Julio, whose jovial faces shone from the labels of their wine, labels I would find, torn and curled, when I burned the trash. I noted the Gallo brothers' address, in California, and I studied the road atlas to see how far that was from Ohio, because I meant to go out there and tell Ernest and Julio what they were doing to my father, and then, if they showed no mercy, I would kill them.
While growing up on the back roads and in the country schools and cramped Methodist churches of Ohio and Tennessee, I never heard the word alcoholism, never happened across it in books or magazines. In the nearby towns, there were no addiction treatment programs, no community mental health centers, no Alcoholics Anonymous chapters, no therapists. Left alone with our grievous secret, we had no way of understanding Father's drinking except as an act of will, a deliberate folly or cruelty, a moral weakness, a sin. He drank because he chose to, pure and simple. Why our father, so playful and competent and kind when sober, would choose to ruin himself and punish his family, we could not fathom.
Our neighborhood was high on the Bible, and the Bible was hard on drunkards. "Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink," wrote Isaiah. "The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are confused with wine, they err in vision, they stumble in giving judgment. For all tables are full of vomit, no place is without filthiness." We children had seen those fouled tables at the local truck stop where the notorious boozers hung out, our father occasionally among them. "Wine and new wine take away the understanding," declared the prophet Hosea. We had also seen evidence of that in our father, who could multiply seven-digit numbers in his head when sober, but when drunk could not help us with fourth-grade math. Proverbs warned: "Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind utter perverse things." Woe, woe.
Dismayingly often, these biblical drunkards stirred up trouble for their own kids. Noah made fresh wine after the flood, drank too much of it, fell asleep without any clothes on, and was glimpsed in the buff by his son Ham, whom Noah promptly cursed. In one passage — it was so shocking we had to read it under our blankets with flashlights — the patriarch Lot fell down drunk and slept with his daughters. The sins of the fathers set their children's teeth on edge.
Our ministers were fond of quoting St. Paul's pronouncement that drunkards would not inherit the kingdom of God. These grave preachers assured us that the wine referred to during the Last Supper was in fact grape juice. Bible and sermons and hymns combined to give us the impression that Moses should have brought down from the mountain another stone tablet, bearing the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not drink.
The scariest and most illuminating Bible story apropos of drunkards was the one about the lunatic and the swine. We knew it by heart: When Jesus climbed out of his boat one day, this lunatic came charging up from the graveyard, stark naked and filthy, frothing at the mouth, so violent that he broke the strongest chains. Nobody would go near him. Night and day for years this madman had been wailing among the tombs and bruising himself with stones. Jesus took one look at him and said, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirits!" for he could see that the lunatic was possessed by demons. Meanwhile, some hogs were conve-niently rooting nearby. "If we have to come out," begged the demons, "at least let us go into those swine." Jesus agreed, the unclean spirits entered the hogs, and the hogs rushed straight off a cliff and plunged into a lake. Hearing the story in Sunday school, my friends thought mainly of the pigs. (How big a splash did they make? Who paid for the lost pork?) But I thought of the redeemed lunatic, who bathed himself and put on clothes and calmly sat at the feet of Jesus, restored — so the Bible said — to "his right mind."
When drunk, our father was clearly in his wrong mind. He became a stranger, as fearful to us as any graveyard lunatic, not quite frothing at the mouth but fierce enough, quick-tempered, explosive; or else he grew maudlin and weepy, which frightened us nearly as much. In my boyhood despair, I reasoned that maybe he wasn't to blame for turning into an ogre: Maybe, like the lunatic, he was possessed by demons. I found support for my theory when I heard liquor referred to as "spirits," when the newspapers reported that somebody had been arrested for "driving under the influence," and when church ladies railed against that "demon drink."
Excerpted from "Writers on the Edge"
Copyright © 2012 Diana M. Raab and James Brown.
Excerpted by permission of Loving Healing Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Writing for Life Perie Longo,
Under the Influence Scott Russell Sanders,
Toys in the Attic Chase Twichell,
Cancelled Elegy Molly Peacock,
Pretty Red Stripes Linda Gray Sexton,
Last Day Out Sue William Silverman,
The Bottom Denise Duhamel,
Lisa Kera Bolonik,
The Doppler Effect B.H. Fairchild,
Thrall Frederick and Steven Barthelme,
Putting Down the Duck Margaret Bullitt-Jonas,
To Dettner Diana M. Raab,
Sweet Rolls and Vodka Victoria Patterson,
Sunset Boulevard Stephen Jay Schwartz,
23 John Amen,
The World Breaks Everyone Ruth Fowler,
A Better Place to Live Maud Casey,
On the Other Side David Huddle,
Night of the Violet Universe Rachel Yoder,
Sayonara Marijuana Mon Amour Chase Twichell,
The Beep Anna David,
If There's a God Gregory Orr,
Instructions on the Use of Alcohol James Brown,
Appendix – Support Groups and Organizations,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If your interested in learning a little bit of what goes on the minds of those with addictions or mental health issues, Writers On The Edge is a good place to start. It gives you a glimpse of many addictions and mental health afflictions. You hear from the dependent or sick person, instead of from the medical professional's, clinical point of view. Writers On The Edge by Diana M. Raab and James Brown, editors, 2012. Although I'm not a huge fan of excerpts, I really enjoyed the various author's personal stories & poems. Many of the excerpts made me want to go and find the original full story to read and enjoy. The poetry, although just as deep, was a needed relief from the stark reality of the author's sometimes disturbing experiences. I also enjoyed the glimpse of times gone by from many of the storytellers. Many of them growing up in the 50's and 60's with addicted or mentally ill family members. Being able to see the difference in how families and society dealt with addiction, when there really wasn't a word for addiction. I also liked the variances in addiction & dependency. From the well known addiction to alcohol to the over-eater to the mentally ill. And of course some of the many reasons why people become addicted. Whether it is genetics, a way to get some relief from their personal demons or simply just for fun. There were 2 stories that hit home and made me feel as though I wanted to read the stories in their entirety. The first was, A Better Place To Live, by Maud Casey. This excerpt was about Maud Casey and her battle with depression. Part of a line that struck me was "Being depressed felt like living in a corpse", (pg. 117). Perfect in the sense that it was a description that has eluded many people in the past. One sentence tells it all. The second was from the memoir, Instructions On The Use Of Alcohol by James Brown. I loved how he wrote as though he was a third party observer. Instead of as the person who went through the drug addiction. In opinion, it could have been a way for him to write honestly or authentically. Writing as an observer may have been easier than writing and therefore having to relive his addictions again? Great read!
Scalding, unflinching, in-your-face right off the bat, the Foreword of this book is chilling, preparing you for the stories inside. This anthology comes from the minds of truly amazing authors and isn't for the faint of heart. Each one takes a look at the harsh reality of their own addictions, as well as some who deal with a family dependency - living in fear that the next generation will follow the same path. The compilation shows a world that may be a great deal different than your own, but each piece is told with truth - which is something not often found today. As anyone knows who suffers, or has a family or friend they watch suffer from an addiction, the isolation, depression, and self-loathing is almost impossible to bear. From alcohol to drug abuse, overeating, depression, cutting, as well as the need for love through empty sex, addictions and obsessions are numerous. Although it's impossible to highlight each story, there are many that stand out. Scott Russell Sanders delves into his childhood, watching his father slip away from the family and into alcohol. He offers the thoughts of a child, who lies in bed awake and scared. Not scared of the abuse (which he doesn't receive on a physical level), but scared because he feels he’s the one responsible for his father’s drinking; if he could be a better son, perhaps his father would be sober. This in-depth look into the detriment of a family, and a man who doesn’t want to become what his father was, is a stunning piece of writing. Linda Gray Sexton talks about loss and how cutting is a release. Sitting in a car just needing that overwhelming pain to come 'out' no matter what her therapist says, her horrific memories will scare you to death. Sue Silverman delves into the world of love. Romance is told in all forms in this day and age, but when the 'physical' was the entirety of the love you received from your own parent, an addiction can form where the only way to get love from a man is with the body. Yet another writer speaks of overeating - a way to stop depression and feel love - although neither ever happens by eating more food. She speaks of support groups, and how being able to see that others are on 'your side' does wonders for a person on the edge. The Barthelme brothers tell a very different tale of an addiction that can't hurt - gambling. There's no risk when you have money in the bank, it's simply an entertaining addiction that hurts no one. With the inclusion of this piece and others like it, readers are shown that with every triumph over addiction, there are also those who remain in the deep end of the pool. These writers are truth-tellers, and they have the words. For the writer out there, this is a lesson in dignity and courage when it comes to putting pen to paper. The scariest prospect for a writer is to lose their words and end up living in a black and white world inside their mind. Listening to their struggles, triumphs and defeats is both heart wrenching and eye-opening. Quill Says: This isn't frilly or sweet. There are no fantastical characters. Be ready for the truth but, most of all, be willing to listen.
"Writers on the Edge" is a book compiled by stories of 22 different writers and their stories of various addictions and struggles they have encountered within their life. While the purpose of the book is very good, I didn't feel most of the stories were well written. There were a few stories that really were gripping and very helpful as I was allowed into their life to see their story. In these few instances it was as though I felt the pain they felt and was drawn to reach out and try to help them overcome the problems they were facing. With that being said, I do feel for anyone facing depression, battling alcohol, drugs, pornography, sexual addiction, suicide, etc... This would be a very good book to help you understand that you alone and that you can find strength and courage from the pages of this book. This would be a good resource to use in counseling and addict groups. Many of the stories were very insightful just not written in a way that I found the most helpful. I do appreciate what the editors have tried to accomplish in putting this book together and hope that people from all walks of life receive help from its material. I received this book from Review the Book for my honest evaluation.
In this book, you will read about 22 writers who have either suffered from some sort of addiction or who have been a victim of someone who was fighting an addiction. So many people, like the writers of this amazing book, have suffered many types of addiction, such as gambling, sexual addiction, alcohol, drugs and even those you may not be aware of such as cutting or food. The results of these struggles not only affect the addict but also those closest to them, leaving emotional scars for years to come. The stories of this book show that although recovery is possible, it's a long, hard road. A road that many many face over and over again. Each writer has expressed their experiences in a different way, using poetry or short stories, and each is equally worth reading.
I didn't know what I would think of this book, but I ended up being shocked, sad, hurt, amazed, at the strength behind so many people who have had so much in their lives, so many addictions, some I never even thought about before. I am always fascinated wit people and their minds and this was a real eye opener. I am very glad to have read this book. This is a brilliant choice for anybody who is dealing with addiction, whether they are a friend or family member, or the person addicted.
Diana M. Raab picked the perfect title for this book. In this book you will find the stories, or poems of 22 writers, who either fought addiction, or was a victim of somebody who was fighting addiction. Either way it’s a long journey to the end and some scars stick with you for life. These writers faced addictions in so many different ways, addiction don’t mean only drugs and alcohol, it can be sexual, gambling, cutting, to food and so much more. You would be surprised just what and how easy you can be addicted to something. These writers bear their souls and share their fight or the fight of their loved ones to reach recovery, if they are lucky. Even recovery is a constant battle they have to fight every day, just one slip and it’s back to the start, to do it all over again. Each writer’s story or poem is a look into their deepest, darkest feelings and emotions, their never talked about inner secrets about how they each fought their own personal demons. Writers on the Edge was well written with the truth of how addiction can affect the person fighting it and the loved ones watching it. This book is a must read for everybody, regardless if you have never fought addiction. I can’t think of many people who hasn’t known somebody who had an addiction, whether they admit it or not, this is as the most honest look into the effects of addiction and how the road to redemption is a long haul, but worth every single step. After reading this book, it’s like somebody took the blindfold off my eyes and showed me what it’s like to be in their shoes, to feel their pain and to be careful, before I ever think I have the right to judge again. I think it’s a book that is for everybody to read, you may not know anybody who has an addiction, but you never know when you might meet somebody who has one, or a child living with somebody who has.
As I started reading the first story, I couldn't believe how much it reminded me of the people in my life that have struggled with addiction. Reading Scott Russell Sanders' story quickly reminded me of my birth father, who was my dad for 14 years until my parents divorced. Then his addiction kept him away from us kids. He came to my high school graduation for approximately 5 minutes and I never saw him again. He died in January 2010 from excessive drinking. The thing he couldn't give up is what killed him. My ex-husband is a drug addict. He was great at hiding it and lead a double life. To the outside world he was "the most genuine guy you'd ever meet". But on the inside he was a raging inferno spinning dangerously out of control due to his addiction to cocaine and crack. Although I never saw him do drugs, I did feel the effects of his addiction, which in turn caused me to be the "saver". It was my mission in life to save him... to cover up for him... to hide his mistakes from everyone, which just made it worse. I had become an enabler. And didn't even know that what I was doing was harmful. This book hit close to home and anyone dealing with addiction, knows someone dealing with addiction, or wants to read the inspiring, insightful stories of addicts or loved ones of addicts must read this book. As an avid creative writer myself, it has inspired me to write my own series on my blog about alcoholism, drug addiction, enabling and co-dependency. This book moved me, more than I ever thought possible and brought back a lot of memories from a past life that is painful yet needs to be remembered so I can teach my children the dangers of addiction and how terribly it can destroy your life in a heartbeat.
I have been studying addiction for several years now both through occupations and through school. I mainly study substance abuse addiction, but am finding the other areas of addiction (sex, gambling, food, etc.) to be quite intriguing as well! I truly enjoy reading books on addiction. In all honesty, I struggled with this one a little bit. I think the reason I struggled is because it was different than anything I have ever read before. It is definitely different than any textbook I have read on addiction and it was more raw and truthful than most things you will read about addicts because I have to admit, it is difficult finding something written truthfully by the addict. The opening writing was, in my opinion, very brash. It felt very in your face, but if you can get past that, you are good to go! It is definitely an interesting read and if you are interested in addictions, I think you will really enjoy reading this book. If addiction isn’t your thing, you’re probably not going to like it. For me personally, being an adult child of an alcoholic, I found that I could relate to some of the writings found in this book. It expanded my knowledge while feeding my interest!
At first glance I thought this book was going to be a bit out of my ordinary reading material, however as I began reading it I realized I had read quite a few other books like this one, not all true stories as in this one, but about similar issues. This book and its numerous stories did catch my attention and draw it in. Some of the stories really pulled me in and I found myself intrigued and yet wondering how addiction really works. How people continue to do these things to themselves, well the fact is, is that it is a disease. A disease no one will quite understand until they are forced to stare it right in the face. I think this compilation of stories helps people understand it maybe just a little bit better. In this book you get too see directly from the addict’s point of view in a lot of stories, most books aren’t like that. That one of the things that I really liked about this book, I also liked that it was a compilation of numerous stories not just one and none of the stories were long and drug out. They were all quick and easy reads, filled with interesting things. A very phenomenal book that was informative, interesting and helpful. I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who has struggled with an addiction or anyone who knows someone who has.
Writers On The Edge is filled with emotional and eye opening stories from people in first person! First person is when they write about themselves, which is often hard to do, especially when it deals with addictions. As with any addiction, one can never be 100% recovered. There is going to be a little demon or often real life demon people who try to break ones strength. After reading quite a few of the various authors stories, I understand how difficult it was for them to sit down and write. One way I try to get my students to get their emotions out is through writing. We often do 'Fictional' writing, but I am often encountered with stories that are non-fiction and from his/her own life when we are finished. I accept it because it is a way for them to get their thoughts and feelings out when their mouths can not express it. I give great thanks to the authors who used their strength to give others and to provide such a eye-opening read. Often in the world people say 'those addicts' but really they do not understand the background or struggles that are happening on the inside and outside of that person they are calling an 'addict.' For all those people I highly recommend reading this book - get out of your colorful world and realize it does include some darkness.
In Writers on the Edge, 22 writers speak out about addiction and dependency. Because I do consider myself a writer and I do battle issues with depression and food addiction, I thought this would be a perfect book for me to write a review on. I was anxious to get started reading it. I enjoyed the fact that these were short stories with some poetry mixed in. I’ve been so busy as of late that trying to sit down and read a novel has been impossible (and depressing me at the same time!) It was nice that I could read a story or a poem as time permitted and not lose from the big picture of the overall story. One of the stories that really stood out for me was the story “Lisa” by Kera Bolonik. Kera tells her story about suicide. Although I do not know anyone personally who has committed suicide, I understand how Kera feels about her own inner thoughts on suicide. Suicidal thoughts are demons I must battle quite frequently. It’s not something I sit around talking to others about, or something I plot doing. I just have these terrible bouts of my extreme depression where I honestly think the world would be better without me. Those thoughts usually quickly fade because I am too chicken to actually even take it any further than thoughts in my head. The other stories of alcohol and drug addiction - neither of which I battled - were just as eye-opening. I felt so much bravery for these 22 opening up their souls to share their tales. I was actually impressed to see a few stories regarding food addiction, something I have dealt with in my life. Just like drugs and alcohol, no one is 100% fully recovered because every day life is a trigger and relapse can happen at a moment’s notice. The stories inspired me and gave me hope.
I have just completed a book I was asked to review, Writers on the Edge, 22 Writers Speak About Addiction and Dependency, edited and contributed by Diana M. Raab and James Brown. It was filled with short-stories and poems, and although I am not generally a "poetry" person, I most definitely found my favorite, "On the Other Side" by David Hubble (page 126). This was not a long book and although the subject matter wasn't 'uplifting' it was very eye-opening. I read it in a day. It doesn't just describe drug addiction, but sex addiction, love addition and alcohol addiction/dependency. It describes how each writer started and ended their addiction (with one exception - we never see the end of one addiction), what lead them down the path to begin with and what happened in the midst of it all. Some stories were sadder than others. One made me angry. I never once pitied any of them because even with the girl who was completely taken over by her boyfriend, she made the choice to let him dominate her; how she dressed, what she ate, where she went. This was quite a fascinating book, and made me look inward and question how I managed to avoid this behavior with all that was going on in my brain. Do I recommend it? Sure do. Easy read, very interesting look into this portion of mental illness and getting through it.
Writers on the Edge tells 22 real-life stories from addiction to depression. This book shows the struggles these writers had with their inner demons in an organic form that is eye-opening, and heartbreaking at times. Whether the addiction is love, alcohol, sex, food, or drugs, these stories and poems take you through the highs and lows that these writers felt as they go through the addiction. You read about how they tried to hide the addiction, keeping their dirty secret from everyone they love. That is until everything comes crashing down around them, and they finally hit rock-bottom. At the bottom, most feeling it almost impossible to ever get well, you journey down the path to recovery with these writers. The stories of depression not only take you through the journey, but shows you how difficult it really is to live with depression especially when the people around you don't understand why. These brave writers fought their way from being depressed, and at times suicidal, to finding their reason to not only live but love the life they have been given. Personally, I always thought of writers as these perfect people with fabulous lives. But after reading Writers on the Edge, I now know that addiction and depression can happen to anyone no matter who you are. But most importantly, it shows you that you can get help and you can recover, no matter who you are or how bad it may be. Recovery is possible, for anyone.
Addiction and depression can consume anyone, even us writers. From Modern History Press comes a bold new book Writers on the Edge, where 22 writers speak about their own addiction and dependencies. Editors Diana Raab, award-winning memorist and poet, and James Brown, author and Professor of English in the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at California State University, San Bernardino, has complied together memories, poetry, and essays by contemporary authors who bring a new truthful edge with the world of addiction. Writes on the Edge is bravely written from first-person narratives from authors/writers such as Rachel Yoder; Chase Twichell; Sue William Silverman; Linda Gray Sexton; Stephen Jay Schwartz; Scott Russell Sanders; Molly Peacock; Victoria Patterson; Gregory Orr; Perie Longo; David Huddle; Ruth Fowler; B.H Fairchild; Denise Duhamel; Anna David; Maud Casey; Margaret Bullitt-Jonas; Kera Bolonik; and Frederick & Stephen Barthelme. Each segment deals with the author’s addiction, from drugs and alcohol, to sex, gambling, food, etc. Each author in Writers on the Edge passionately and emotionally wrote their true story. There is heartbreak, honesty, and courage in every written piece. I recommend it to all writers & readers.