With three startlingly inappropriate husbands behind her, long battles with alcoholism and Valium dependence, and time spent living in a porcelain-lined trailer due to chemical sensitivities, Ann Lloyd has surely endured a complicated life, which is detailed in her tangled but engaging memoir, Vodka on My Wheaties.
Born to comfortable but neurotic parents in Cleveland, she first marries a wealthy and socially prominent eccentric who beats her and shoots at her before being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and killing himself in an alcohol-fueled automobile accident. Next comes a lay-about Englishman she supports through a number of failed schemes, including ownership of a Bahamas resort, at which point she finally recognizes him as the strangely gullible con-artist he has been all along. And finally, there is a brief marriage of convenience to a Bible-toting, two-fisted drinker.
At the end of a series of such off-kilter adventures, Lloyd is rescued from pills and booze by a twelve-step program, only to find that the years of abuse and neglect have caused her body to rebel against everyday chemicals, eventually leading her to the safety of the porcelain trailer.
Though filled with a blizzard of bizarrely entertaining events and many, many dropped names (there’s a convenient list of celebrities and the pages on which they are mentioned at the front of the book), Lloyd’s book can be trying. Her recollections are often in need of tighter editorial control and better organization. Occasionally, the narrative jumps backwards or forwards through time at the wrong junctures, needlessly interrupting its flow, while some episodes simply don’t need telling. Others would be strengthened by different placement.
Despite such drawbacks, the fact that she survived being beaten into submission to the wills of too many unstable men, yet rose from the ashes of her own fires, gives her story its undeniable flair.