cover image Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

Sarah Hepola. Grand Central, $26 (239p) $26 ISBN 978-1-4555-5459-1

Using as touchstone the astonishing self-revelatory memoir Drinking: A Love Story, by Caroline Knapp, Salon editor and Dallas journalist Hepola delves into her own lush life as the merry lit gal about town with unique intensity. Growing up in Dallas in the late 1970s and '80s, Hepola was an early convert to the sensation of intoxication that alcohol induced: she snuck sips of beer from her mother's open cans left in the refrigerator, and later found drinking an effective way out of adolescent self-consciousness. By college in Austin, she had embraced the drinking culture with gusto, though she did recognize by age 20 that she had a drinking problem; her nights out were often accompanied by blackouts, after which she relied on friends to fill in the messy details. Working as a journalist at the Austin Chronicle and the Dallas Observer before moving to New York City to freelance at age 31, Hepola naturally equated writing with drinking, because "wine turned down the volume on [her] own self-doubt." But the blackouts began to take their toll, and waking up in strangers' beds with no memory of how she got there felt terrifying. In this valiant, gracious work of powerful honesty, Hepola confronts head-on the minefield of self-sabotage that binge drinking caused in her work, relationships, and health before she eventually turned her life around. (June)