cover image Ninety Days: 
A Memoir of Recovery

Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery

Bill Clegg. Little, Brown, $24.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-316-12252-8

In this stark memoir, a follow-up to Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man, literary agent and author Clegg describes his struggle to stay clean . Returning to New York City after a stint in rehab, Clegg faces the ruin he’s made of his life: his literary agency has closed, his lover has moved on, and he faces mounting debts with no income to speak of. Making matters worse, in spite of the many meetings Clegg attends, he’s helplessly drawn to vice. Many organizations dealing with substance abuse emphasize 90 days sober as a real signpost toward recovery. Clegg discovers that reaching that signpost is going to take him a lot longer than three months. Clegg’s spare, nearly minimalist style complements the drama inherent in his material: it’s addition through subtraction. At first, his understated approach can seem sketchy, even vague, but the effect is cumulative. By focusing on the struggle through each gray day, Clegg draws the reader into his claustrophobic existence. His distance from both his character and the world short-circuits the addiction memoir tendency toward melodrama. When specific details do seep in—selling his mother’s silver, a drug-fueled threesome—the impact is powerful. With understated craft, Clegg has written a harrowing story. (Apr.)