Author Topic: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?  (Read 11793 times)

Offline BelAir

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Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« on: March 16, 2009, 09:05:14 pm »
I've read "Pack of Two" about people's relationships with their dogs, and "Appetites: Why Women Want" - about her own struggle with anorexia, and why women 'want' in general.

I have "Drinking: A Love Story" and "The Merry Recluse" (a collection of essays) to read.

I think she has interesting ideas, thoughts on women's issues, and just wondered if anyone else was familiar with her work...
" a thirst for life, for love, and for truth..."

Offline Mandy21

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2009, 09:10:47 pm »
I LOVE Caroline Knapp.  Being an alcoholic, sometimes on and sometimes off the wagon, "Drinking:  A Love Story" remains firmly planted on my coffee table at all times.  I must have read it cover-to-cover a hundred times over the years.  It is truly heartbreaking, but also hopeful at the same time.  I've read the rest of her stuff as well, but this one resonated the deepest in me, because of the aforementioned reasons.  I also believe it to be her finest work, from a literary standpoint, but perhaps I'm just biased.  I didn't find the others to be quite as smooth reading as "Drinking".  Let me know what you think of it after you read.

You do, of course, know she passed away from lung cancer in her early 40's, right?
Dawn is coming,
Open your eyes...

Offline BelAir

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2009, 10:56:34 pm »
Yes, I know about her death from lung cancer....

As depressing to me as Heath's death really.

Smoking, the one addiction she never wrote about.

I can't help but wonder what she would say, and how she felt, about her battle with cancer.  And I would LOVE to read someone's memoir of her...

At the end of Appetites, she recounts watching the birth of her niece.

And she died of cancer six months later.

 :-\

Like Heath, I feel she was a kindred soul, and I'm sad she's gone.

Well, I didn't mean to depress myself so, but in Appetites I agreed with some of her perspectives, but felt sometimes she was sort of repeating the party line in terms of culture and women and image...

(PS - I'm glad I found another fan!)




" a thirst for life, for love, and for truth..."

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2009, 11:25:05 pm »
OMG! My copy of Drinking: A Love Story arrived from Amazon last week!

I have read chunks of it over the years, and been really impressed, but never got around to reading the whole thing. Finally, though, I ordered it for my husband, because he has drinking issues he is trying to deal with, and I thought it would help him. I was going to read it after he does, but Amazon sent it here accidentally, so I will read it first (he lives in another state).

I think her writing is beautiful and powerfully honest. As a memoirist, a sometimes excessive drinker, and a lover of good writing, I'm really looking forward to it. Once I've finished it, I'll probably read some of her other books.

As I was ordering the book and reading parts online, I googled her name. I already knew she had died a few years ago, and young, but I didn't realize how quickly she went until I came upon her NY Times wedding announcement. She was diagnosed in April, married in May, died in June.

Heartbreaking.


Offline BelAir

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2009, 11:28:28 pm »
OMG! My copy of Drinking: A Love Story arrived from Amazon last week!

I have read chunks of it over the years, and been really impressed, but never got around to reading the whole thing. Finally, though, I ordered it for my husband, because he has drinking issues he is trying to deal with, and I thought it would help him. I was going to read it after he does, but Amazon sent it here accidentally, so I will read it first (he lives in another state).

I think her writing is beautiful and powerfully honest. As a memoirist, a sometimes excessive drinker, and a lover of good writing, I'm really looking forward to it. Once I've finished it, I'll probably read some of her other books.

As I was ordering the book and reading parts online, I googled her name. I already knew she had died a few years ago, and young, but I didn't realize how quickly she went until I came upon her NY Times wedding announcement. She was diagnosed in April, married in May, died in June.

Heartbreaking.



Well, come report back as you read, please...

(My copy of Drinking arrived today...)
" a thirst for life, for love, and for truth..."

Offline Mandy21

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2009, 10:14:40 am »
Enjoy it, ladies!  Can't wait to see what you think.

Yes, it is sadly ironic that she mentions smoking throughout Drinking, but never once gives pause in worry that it might be causing her harm as well.  All she's worried about is her drinking.  You'll see that her mother was, however, concerned with Caroline's smoking, but it didn't do any good in the end.

P.S.  I'm glad I found TWO other fans.

P.S.S.  SeriousCrayons, your husband lives in another STATE?
Dawn is coming,
Open your eyes...

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2009, 10:32:57 am »
P.S.S.  SeriousCrayons, your husband lives in another STATE?

Yes, we're separated, and the kids and I moved back to Minnesota. We still get along, though.


Offline serious crayons

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2009, 01:52:59 pm »
I finished Drinking: A Love Story a couple of weeks ago. I meant to post on here about it, but forgot until now.

Anyway, I thought it was excellent. A very personal story, very well written. And it rang true to me. I would have liked to read more about what it was like quitting drinking -- how hard, on a day to day basis, was that struggle? That part of the experience gets short shrift compared to the parts that took place while she was drinking.

Makes me all the more sad that she died so young.

What are your thoughts?


Offline Mandy21

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2009, 02:36:24 pm »
So glad you enjoyed it, still waiting to hear back from BelAir on her take on it.  Thanks for reviving this thread; I had forgotten it as well.

It's very observant of you that Caroline left the "quitting drinking" bits out of the book, for the whole.  Stopping, even for a day or two, when you're a full-blown every-day drinker like she was, is an incredibly agonizing, debilitating, and personalized struggle within ourselves.  We stop, and we start, for no reasons that a non-alcoholic could possibly fathom.  I respect the fact that she didn't talk too much about the stopping, for those reasons.  Rather, she focused on all of the reasons that MADE her drink in the first place -- the pain, the heredity/genetics, the childhood memories, the social conditions, the livelihood she chose as a writer, the men who wandered in and out of her life, the hurt, the self-deprecation and lack of self-respect, etc.  I think she knew that the alcoholic in their early stages (unlike her) could be focused to in a more reachable manner, by detailing the "glamour" of drinking that initially lures us in.  The early and mid-stage alcoholic that she was reaching out to in her book, still has the possibility to be fully saved, whereas there's so little hope at all once you reach the late stages of alcoholism.  Those people, unfortunately, can hardly pick up a book, let alone seek one out specifically, as a way to a cure.  Not trying to sound defeatist or pessimistic; I just know from what I've seen with many other alcoholics, and growing up in an alcoholic home and neighborhood, and from my own internal struggles, that it is nearly impossible to help someone once they reach that stage of the game.

I'm so very glad you enjoyed it.  Let us know what your husband thinks of it, and if it helps him / speaks to him at all.

Take care.
Dawn is coming,
Open your eyes...

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2009, 03:03:14 pm »
Thanks, Mandy. I gave the book to my husband last week, hoping he'll especially connect to it as a fellow journalist. He is going through a terrible time of life, for a number of reasons.

Your post was food for thought, some of it a little scary.

I have been doing some studying about alcohol in recent weeks, while also questioning my own use. I see some problematic pattens in my drinking. I'd like to manage them without quitting social drinking entirely, but I keep thinking of the time I interviewed ex-Monkee Peter Tork, an alcoholic who'd been sober for years. He said something about how, as far as he could tell, the road to alcoholism is a one-way street.

I think as a society we are really undereducated about alcoholism and the effects of long-term alcohol use on the brain, both in terms of cognitive damage and the ways it messes up our pleasure-chemical system. I was familiar with the effect that painkillers, for example, can have on those chemicals (I believe I first heard about that after Rush Limbaugh's addiction became public), but only recently did I realize that alcohol, marijuana and other drugs can have similar effects.

You're right about the glamour of drinking luring people in. I've noticed for years, for example, how often one sees glasses of wine on tables in magazine spreads featuring upscale lifestyles/homes. I suppose at one time cigarettes were similarly glamorized; now I'm shocked when I see any otherwise "glamorous" person -- a movie star, for example -- smoking a cig. I don't think alcohol will ever be stigmatized to the extent cigarettes are -- nor should it be, because it's not necessarily harmful for casual users -- but we really do get only one part of the picture.