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How To Become a Successful (recovering) Alcoholic Kindle Edition
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The author has a method of storytelling that is reminiscent of the sort of fireside saws my elders used to pass on their wisdom and give youth the benefit of vicarious experience. With seamless shifts between didactic point-of-fact, remembrances of the past, and musings on the proverbial whithertos and whyfors, Willson paints a clear picture from the perspective of both a drunkard and a recovering alcoholic. The honesty and humility in laying bare a lifetime of lessons learned and mistakes made lends a great deal of weight to both the tone and the theme. Rather than attempting to put on the mask of a "redeemed soul", the author speaks freely and without the sort of sterile pontification which signals meek attempts at saving face.
Willson tells his story the way he lived it: as a human being in all its perfect imperfection, filled with thoughts and feelings, hopes, fears, that we all might do well to consider.
Back to “(Recovering Alcoholic)” and Bourdain – because J.P. Willson is also a chef. Willson did not kill himself, as Bourdain did. Bourdain wasted the last third of his life, literally. Willson, in his own words, wasted the middle. Willson spends a lot of his book, which is his story of how he went about freeing himself from the demon liquor, wondering of what he might have been capable had he not been spending his energy and money in pursuit of a vice; I wonder what Bourdain might have done with the last third of his life had he not decided it wasn’t worth it. Willson’s drug of choice was alcohol, Bourdain was supposedly clean but had suffered from heroin addiction in the past (and probably alcohol as well, he certainly drank a lot on his shows).
Addiction. What family does not have a story of somebody who has struggled with this particular issue; and what family does not wonder “What could have been” about the stories of their loved ones. An alcoholic father staring blankly at the TV screen; a drug-addled son. The chapter I liked best was Chapter 11; where Willson talks a little bit about how he got into his conundrum. There is no one path to addiction; people arrive in that prison from all walks of life, from all races and faiths. Men and women, sinner and saint – and Chapter 11 told Willson’s personal story, as well as the anguish of his father. One anecdote, when his father – after a particularly nasty drinking bout in adolescence – put him in the car and drove him to skid row, trying to show him where he would end up if he did not control himself. Yet end up there he did; and I can only imagine his father’s anguish, for I have a little boy as well.
There is nothing sadder than addiction.
Joy – that is what Willson discovers when he finally pulls his head from his bottle to look around. An amazing world – where you can paraglide with the condors, hike ancient trails, read olden books, visit cathedrals where great events were held and that still radiate with the energy of purpose and power. Eat amazing food – simple and expensive. Live a life you can remember, as the song goes. Bourdain knew all this, yet still took his own life; Willson is just now learning it, but after a destroyed life it is hard to afford (both in terms of money, and loved ones with whom to share it with).
“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories,” – Ray Bradbury. That is hard for all of us, mired as we are in everyday life. Its easy to look for escape in something – food, hate, indifference: a bottle. Life is scary, it’s sometimes easier to invite your worst fears to come true; because after that there is nothing to be afraid of. But what do we miss? I wish J.P Willson well and hope he stays the course, to live a life of wonder. For those who are struggling with this pernicious demon – read his book and learn about a rough guy who might have been great but instead became lost, and how he rediscovered himself.
Despite the title, it’s not a “how to.” That’s because the author hasn’t discovered the formula for success. “When it comes to my own addictive behavior I have absolutely no idea as to the whys, hows, whats or anything else for that matter.” He does hope, however, that his continuing intellectual pursuit of the reasons for his addiction may help others.
The book’s synopsis calls it a memoir. But memoirs are usually factual, while Willson says this book is “creative non-fiction” and that he intends to “stretch the truth.” Unfortunately, that means the parts that might inspire could be myth.
So, that leaves fiction, and Willson does hope his books will become a commercial success. But as fiction, this book leaves much to be desired. It’s short, only 120 pages. And yet, it manages to be quite repetitive. His observations often seem illogical and contradictory. In chapter seven, for example, he talks of becoming “cold” to the people he sees returning again and again to the treatment center, while only a few pages later, he says, “I hurt for these people whether I know them or not.” The book is filled with truisms, such as “if you have enough belief in yourself, then you truly can succeed at anything you wish given the proper determination, the right mindset, and the appropriate skills one may need to acquire through whatever the channels that are available to you.”
So, what to make of this book? You have to admire his fight against alcoholism and the success he has had so far. On that basis, this is a 5-star book. But as fiction (or a memoir), he needs to refine his craft in order to convey his message.
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The book "How To Become a Successful (Recovering) Alcoholic by J.P. Willson is a continuation of the author's cure story and his addiction struggle.Read more