Memoirs of a Drunk recounts the narrator’s travails living with and recovering from alcoholism and offers advice for alcoholics and their families. While written in the first person and reading as if it is nonfiction, its genre is unclear: the copyright page notes that it’s “a work of fiction,” while the dedication page calls it a “True story for the alcoholic and his family.”
Growing up in Latvia, the narrator (presumably Sidrabs) got drunk for the first time at age 13. By 17, he began to “seriously drink,” and eventually alcoholism upended his life. From divorce to getting fired for drunkenly falling down the stairs at work, he self-destructed, struggling with nightmares, anxiety, and loneliness before checking himself into rehab and eventually reclaiming his life.
His personal story is recounted in one chapter, while the other five chapters contain reflections and insights about alcoholism and guidance to gaining sobriety (for example: An alcoholic “must learn to listen to himself and understand his feelings” and “admit his helplessness and weakness.”)
Sidrabs writes with a blunt, but compassionate voice that will bring a sense of community to those affected by alcoholism; he’s clearly the voice of experience. However, his advice is based mostly on his own ideas (and sometimes those of Alcoholics Anonymous), rather than objective studies, which some readers might find limiting. For example, he notes that living with an alcoholic father can lead to “quiet and timid teenagers who have become lost in a world of video games and virtual chat and have difficulty interacting with people in real life.” Supportive data would give such conclusions much more weight. Additionally, minor mistakes in grammar and punctuation can be distracting.
There are hundreds of accomplished books on this topic, which sets the bar high for new works. Sidrabs book doesn’t rise to the top level. Still, he has a compelling voice, and readers are likely to find helpful thoughts here from someone who knows the territory.
Also available as an ebook.