A memoir of unblinking honesty and poignant, laugh-out-loud humor, Blackout is the story of a woman stumbling into a new kind of adventure -- the sober life she never wanted.
For Sarah Hepola, alcohol was "the gasoline of all adventure." She spent her evenings at cocktail parties and dark bars where she proudly stayed till last call. Drinking felt like freedom, part of her birthright as a strong, enlightened twenty-first-century woman.
But there was a price. She often blacked out, waking up with a blank space where four hours should be. Mornings became detective work on her own life. What did I say last night? How did I meet that guy? She apologized for things she couldn't remember doing, as though she were cleaning up after an evil twin. Publicly, she covered her shame with self-deprecating jokes, and her career flourished, but as the blackouts accumulated, she could no longer avoid a sinking truth. The fuel she thought she needed was draining her spirit instead.
A memoir of unblinking honesty and poignant, laugh-out-loud humor, Blackout is the story of a woman stumbling into a new kind of adventure -- the sober life she never wanted. Shining a light into her blackouts, she discovers the person she buried, as well as the confidence, intimacy, and creativity she once believed came only from a bottle. Her tale will resonate with anyone who has been forced to reinvent or struggled in the face of necessary change. It's about giving up the thing you cherish most -- but getting yourself back in return.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Alcoholism is one of our most extensively documented illnesses, perhaps because—as Sarah Hepola eloquently establishes in this irreverent, fiercely intelligent book—writing and drinking go awfully well together. But even in the crowded field of booze memoirs, Hepola’s account stands out; she looks back on her drunken escapades with hard-won perception and faces her (sober) future with admirable realism. Yes, Blackout covers familiar territory. But Hepola’s version is so well told, it’s virtually impossible to put down.
Using as touchstone the astonishing self-revelatory memoir Drinking: A Love Story, by Caroline Knapp, Salon editor and Dallas journalist Hepola delves into her own lush life as the merry lit gal about town with unique intensity. Growing up in Dallas in the late 1970s and '80s, Hepola was an early convert to the sensation of intoxication that alcohol induced: she snuck sips of beer from her mother's open cans left in the refrigerator, and later found drinking an effective way out of adolescent self-consciousness. By college in Austin, she had embraced the drinking culture with gusto, though she did recognize by age 20 that she had a drinking problem; her nights out were often accompanied by blackouts, after which she relied on friends to fill in the messy details. Working as a journalist at the Austin Chronicle and the Dallas Observer before moving to New York City to freelance at age 31, Hepola naturally equated writing with drinking, because "wine turned down the volume on own self-doubt." But the blackouts began to take their toll, and waking up in strangers' beds with no memory of how she got there felt terrifying. In this valiant, gracious work of powerful honesty, Hepola confronts head-on the minefield of self-sabotage that binge drinking caused in her work, relationships, and health before she eventually turned her life around.
Stunning, raw, intimate… the best writing I’ve read since Joan Didion. You have a gift, please write more…
Started reading this well before I stopped drinking (but I definitely had suspicions) after finding a recommendation for it in The Alcalde, finished it after I was seven months sober – thank you Sarah!
This got old, fast. Glad you’re sober, but…why write so much about how you miss consuming POISON—aka alcohol?