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Addiction is seemingly inexplicable. From the outside, it can look like wilful, arrogant self-destruction; from the inside, it can feel as inevitable and insistent as a heartbeat. It is possible to describe, but hard to explore. Yet in The Recovering, Leslie Jamison draws on her own life and the lives of addicts of extraordinary talent - John Cheever, John Berryman, Jean Rhys and Amy Winehouse among them - to take us inside the experience of addiction, exposing the contours, edges and wholes of an intoxicated life.
Part memoir, part group biography, part literary history and part definitive analysis of cultural and social considerations of addiction, The Recovering is a significant moment in the history of post-war narrative non-fiction.
Leslie Jamison grew up in Los Angeles. Educated at Harvard College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has also worked as an innkeeper in California, a schoolteacher in Nicaragua, and an office temp in Manhattan. She is currently studying for a PhD at Yale University, where she is writing a dissertation on poverty and degradation in twentieth century American writing. Her first novel, The Gin Closet, was published in 2010, and her collection of essays, The Empathy Exams, was published in 2014.