cover image Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery

Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery

Erica C. Barnett. Viking, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-52232-4

Journalist Barnett debuts with an intense account of her alcoholism, denial, and, ultimately, redemption. With her first taste of alcohol as a 13-year-old in 1991, she discovered a “magic trick that took me outside myself,” one that, after graduating from the University of Texas, turned a shy young woman into a gregarious one. After landing her first reporting job at the Austin Chronicle, Barnett began drinking heavily, suffering blackouts before accepting a job at Seattle Weekly. In Seattle, her problem worsened, with more frequent blackouts and Barnett relying on box wine at her desk at work. Barnett’s snappy prose carries the reader through several rounds of rehab before the final one sticks, pulling no punches as she goes. Barnett doesn’t skimp on her life’s lows (she goes to an interview drunk, and shoplifts wine) of how her ever-worsening problem caused her to lose her health, her job, and many of her friends, and alienate her family. In the end, she begins therapy and reluctantly joins AA, eventually acknowledging, “I feel better if I give some of those things up to whatever’s out there.” Emotionally devastating and self-aware, this cautionary tale about substance abuse is a worthy heir to Cat Marnell’s How to Murder Your Life. (July)