Author Topic: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?  (Read 12350 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?
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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?
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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.



Offline Mandy21

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2009, 04:36:59 pm »
Well, alcoholism is indeed a scary disease -- it's cunning and diabolical and tricky and surprising, even to us in its grasps, as well as those innocent bystanders and family members.  There is no set path that each alcoholic takes; it becomes up to the individual, and they are fully aware of that power in learning how to play their version of the game, as it were.

There are loads and loads of books available for free at any public library, about alcoholism, and many of them are written by journalists.  I think I've read them all.  Just go to his local library website, and type in "alcoholism" as a subject keyword, etc., and you'll find hundreds of them.  There's also books geared towards women like yourself who are married to a husband with a drinking problem; those might be helpful to you, in determining whether or not you truly have a problem to worry about in yourself, or if you were simply an enabler, for whatever reason.  There's also many books written for adult children of alcoholics.  I always find these comforting because they give a genetic and social reason behind how we were conditioned growing up.  The first step, always, is in realizing that it is most definitely a DIS-EASE.  It's not something I would wish on my worst enemy, but it is definitely a part of my life, and may someday, lead to my death, as it did with my mother, finally, last year.  It's a day-to-day, sometimes minute-to-minute struggle for each of us, just trying to overcome it.

You're right to be scared, but again I'll reiterate -- you can NOT help someone who's not ready to be helped.  You're only beating your head against a wall, shuffling in place stuck in sand going nowhere, UNTIL he asks for your help.  Be prepared with facts, organizations, phone numbers, policies, healthcare plans, etc. for when that day comes, and help him through those steps because he won't be capable of thinking clearly at all, at first.  You, or another close friend, will have to hold him up and walk him through the steps, both metaphorically and literally.  But only if you care and love him, and love yourself, and the life you had together, enough to do so with all the strength you can muster.  As hard as it is for us to battle this disease, it's even harder still on those that love us and watch us try to destroy everything good about this life.

Let me know if you need specific book recommendations, and if you want, I'll PM you my phone number, if you'd like to talk.  Just let me know, sweetie.  Take care of yourself.

Mandy

Dawn is coming,
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2009, 07:49:54 pm »
Thank you, Mandy. You are very kind. And I'm so glad to have someone around who's both kind and knowledgeable.

What do you think of Pete Hamill's book? I like Pete Hamill, think he's a good writer, talked to him on the phone once years ago and he was extremely nice, but flipping around his book on Amazon I didn't find it as compelling as Knapp's. Maybe only because his background and experiences didn't match mine quite as closely as hers. Have you read it?


Offline bailey1205

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2009, 08:24:28 pm »
I'm glad I found this thread.

I am going to order Caroline Knapp's book.

Addictions are so hard to break.

Offline Mandy21

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2009, 09:20:14 pm »
Hey, SeriousCrayons, and welcome to our website, Bailey1205.  This is a great forum to explore and meet people and learn that everybody in life is struggling with something/s.  There's not a site on here where some one will not be able to relate to anything you might be going through.  We're all in pain out here, but when you come to BetterMost, you will find unconditional love and acceptance for everything you are or might want to be.

Okay, off highhorse for the Newbie, to answer your questions, SC:

I can find something to relate to in every alcoholic  book, but I agree with you in that some are definitely more compelling than others.  I found Pete Hamill's "A Drinking Life" to be a little hard-nosed and Hemingway-esque for my situation, so found it a little hard to enjoy, and it didn't help me much.  Here's a list of some of the recent books I've loved almost as much as "Drinking: A Love Story" by CK.  I've included library call numbers and authors, so you can get for free.  (P.S.  Bailey, you can find D:ALS in the library for free, before you make it your Bible on your coffee table, like I have:))

Whiskey's Children 362.292 Erdmann (wow -- this is like the "Fatal Attraction" story for male alcoholics, plus it's also written by a St. Louisan, which is what I am, so double points...)  True story, quite harsh, real-life, caustic, terrifying, in-your-face, but with a true happy ending, in every meaning of the term

Sober for Good 363.2928 Fletcher

Happy Hours:  Alcohol in a Woman's Life 362.292 Jersild

Under the Influence 616.861 Milam

The Thinking Person's Guide to Sobriety 616.861 Pluymen

I'm going to PM you now with my home phone.  Feel free to call if you need to talk.  Use it or not, won't be offended either way. 
Dawn is coming,
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Offline bailey1205

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2009, 09:30:47 pm »
Thanks tons for the references Mandy.

I will look for these books.



Offline BelAir

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2009, 09:25:35 am »
Hi all,

I'm glad to see the discussion revived.  I finished The Merry Recluse first and am a few chapters in to the Drinking: A Love Story... 

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

Offline Mandy21

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2010, 04:16:59 pm »
Reviving this topic after nearly a year.  Wondering what BelAir and Bailey1205 thought of Drinking: A Love Story?
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Offline Mandy21

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2010, 08:57:47 pm »
Bailey1205, any thoughts?
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2010, 08:58:58 pm »
I don't know about Karen, but I think about Caroline Knapp and DaLS often.


Offline Mandy21

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2010, 09:03:46 pm »
I don't know about Karen, but I think about Caroline Knapp and DaLS often.



Heya, how are things going for you lately?
Dawn is coming,
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2010, 10:17:59 pm »
Heya, how are things going for you lately?

I'm good, Mandy, thanks! How about you?


Offline Mandy21

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Re: Has anyone else read Caroline Knapp?
« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2010, 11:45:19 pm »
Life is always interesting.
Dawn is coming,
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