April 17, 2013

Recovery Spotlight: Caroline Knapp (1959-2002)

The late Caroline Knapp wrote poignantly about her 20-year battle with alcoholism in the powerful memoir “Drinking: A Love Story,” published in 1996. After achieving sobriety, she tragically died of lung cancer at just 42 years of age.

Born and raised in Cambridge, Mass., she worked as a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, penning the popular “Out There,” which often featured her fictional alter-ego, Alice K. In 1994, her columns were collected in her first book, “Alice K's Guide to Life: One Woman's Quest for Survival, Sanity, and the Perfect New Shoes.”

“Drinking: A Love Story,” details her life as a “high-functioning alcoholic,” and achieved a longstanding place on the New York Times best-seller list.

“Trying to describe the process of becoming an alcoholic is like trying to describe air. It's too big and mysterious and pervasive to be defined,” she wrote. “Alcohol is everywhere in your life, omnipresent, and you're both aware and unaware of it almost all the time, all you know is you'd die without it, and there is no simple reason why this happens, no single moment, no physiological event that pushes a heavy drinker across a concrete line into alcoholism. It's a slow, gradual, insidious, elusive becoming.”

She followed that book with “Drinking with Pack of Two,” also a best-seller, which tells the story of her relationship with her dog, Lucille, along with humans' relationships with dogs in general. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in April 2002 and a month later married her longtime companion, photographer Mark Morelli. A month later she died — sober.

After her death, two more of her books were published: “Appetites: Why Women Want,” which describes her experience with anorexia, and “The Merry Recluse,” a collection of
essays.

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