- Series: Wsp Readers Club
- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Washington Square Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0671040731
- ISBN-13: 978-0671040734
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 36 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,279,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Note Found in a Bottle (Wsp Readers Club) 1st Edition
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"My grandmother Cheever taught me how to embroider, how to say the Lord's Prayer, and how to make a perfect dry martini."
Alcoholism seems to have been a family tradition among the Cheevers. The posthumous publication of pater John Cheever's journals revealed both his fondness for the bottle and his bisexuality; daughter Susan has gone her father one better, publishing a memoir of promiscuity and drunkenness while still alive. In Note in a Bottle, she leaves little to the imagination as she chronicles her career, her many sexual escapades and, of course, her drinking. A typical passage goes something like this:
Warren knows San Francisco so well it's like being in his own house to be there with him. He took me to a bar with wooden booths. We ate delicious chowder and drank white wine. He drank vodka and grapefruit; it was lunchtime but I could see he had just gotten up. I wondered who he had been in bed with. I drank more white wine.... "I still love you," he said, and he kissed me. I was late for dinner with Calvin.The early sections of Cheever's memoir, in which she describes the culture of drinking in the '50s and '60s, are quite interesting; the problem is (to rewrite Tolstoy), all unhappy drunks are the same. Once Cheever shifts her focus to her own personal catalog of cocktails and dysfunctional affairs, she becomes interchangeable with any number of other alcoholics who have trod that slippery slope before her. And as the details of her various messy marriages or affairs (or both) with Robert, with Calvin, with Warren, et. al pile up, one finds oneself wishing for a little less history and a little more mystery. Still, Note in a Bottle contains some astute observation delivered in Susan Cheever's appealingly ironic prose style and some interesting insights into the rarified world of the literati that she inhabits. --Margaret Prior --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
"Like all alcoholics," Cheever (Home Before Dark) writes in this brutally frank memoir, "I worshipped at the shrine of my own heart." Having studied under her father, John Cheever, a master of alcohol, she was a true acolyte. In her childhood memories, home was a place where "guests were always falling down the stairs," but she never thought much of it as she approached adulthood, braced by her grip on a trusty, eternally full glass. She drank in Alabama and Mississippi during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, in England and France in the 1970s and in New York City all the time. By her own account she was a spoiled, self-centered woman who knew that daddy's money could always be wired to her anywhere in the world. Alcohol warped her sense of judgment about men: she fell in love with a batterer and a perpetual ne'er-do-well drunkard and thought nothing of sleeping with three men in one day. Slowly she realized that she "was a disaster waiting to happen." With the birth of a daughter and a son she began to understand that "drinking doesn't absolve anyone of responsibility." As her drinking stopped, she also stopped "manipulating men and thinking that other people's pain was funny" and found a belief in God. Similar to Pete Hamill's A Drinking Life and Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story, this is a powerful story written in precise, emotionally intense prose. Although she doesn't go into the details of how she got sober, her story will be of invaluable assistance and support to those who are traveling the chilling road that seduced, then nearly killed Susan Cheever.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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Some reviewers panned this book because they felt she constantly engaged in name-dropping -- she is the daughter of a famous writer who grew up among many other famous writers, and being among famous people was just her life, and she does not glamorize or express false humility about it.
Maybe this is just one of those alcoholic "insider" books, like the book "Alcoholics Anonymous", which many non-alcoholics may find tedious and depressing. Self-reflection occurs throughout the book, but it is done in a non-self-judgemental way, like when her newborn daughter was put under medical observation for tremors -- she mentioned that she (and at the time, most people) were not aware of the effects alcohol could have on a developing fetus. Trust me, Susan today is probably cringing at most of her previous alcohol-fueled behavior. But in order to recover alcoholics have to accept and forgive themselves, otherwise they will drink again. Getting over the shame of who they have been is part of every alcoholics' recovery.
Thank you, Susan Cheever, for writing this book, and thank you for writing the Bill Wilson book. And thank you for publishing your father's journals.
What's so striking different about this book is that there is almost no self-reflection. It's just a compilation of what Susan Cheever drank, the places Susan Cheever drank, the men Susan Cheeer screwed while she was drunk. We'd get much the same result of Susan had gone to Kitty Kelley and asked "Will you write a shallow, vapid account of my life?"
Note Found In a Bottle is self-absored and boringly so. I imagine what keeps Susan awake at night is that most people have found this account of her drinking years Not Very Interesting. She earnestly wants the reader to believe her life was glamourous, but in fact it's just an average drunk story.
I guess there are worse ways to spend (money) than to throw it away on this book....but not many.