Cat Marnell in The Monthly

You need a subscription to The Monthly to read this, but to summarise the essay: Cat Marnell’s How to Murder Your Life breaks all the rules of the modern addiction memoir, which tend to wind up with the narrator rolling around on a bed of recovery chips:

  • Former wine critic Alice King names part three of High Sobriety after an Alcoholics Anonymous slogan, ‘One Day at a Time’.
  • Elizabeth Wurtzel, who wrote the Gen-X defining memoir Prozac Nation, has found ‘Redemption’ in the final section of her Ritalin-fuelled follow-up, More, Now, Again.
  • Caroline Knapp’s Drinking: A Love Story spent a few weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and has become perhaps the best-known booze memoir. By its conclusion, Knapp attends “four or five” AA meetings a week.
  • Even the brutal-witted Augusten Burroughs is no exception. He curtails his ad-exec antics in Dry with a chapter in which he takes a walk with an Alcoholics Anonymous newcomer called Jim. It’s a literary device with which to impart to us some 12-step wisdom.

Marnell’s book has more in common with what’s often referred to as the ‘original addiction memoir’, Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, from 1821.

De Quincey wrote in the appendix: “Those who have read the Confessions will have closed them with the impression that I had wholly renounced the use of opium.” 

In fact, he admitted, he had only cut down on his drug use.

Similarly, it was always Marnell’s intent to keep using Adderall et al. In the book proposal for How to Murder Your Life, which was leaked to Jezebel, she concluded: “To be clear, this book is not a recovery memoir.” 

Link to the article is here