April 18, 2004

Notes Found in a Bottle

Notes Found In a Bottle
Susan Cheever


(April 18, 2004)

A memoir of a drinker, but it's a remarkable book in part because drinking plays such a small role: this delightful little book avoids the predictable scenes of trial and temptation that precede sainthood and sobriety. Cheever liked to drink. So did lots of people -- her dad (famously), her friends (trendily), everyone. No skid marks on the highway, no skid rows, nothing so terrible. When she stops drinking, that's when bad stuff happens. Drink doesn't really get her into trouble: love, on the other hand, sometimes does.

But, it turns out, maybe the good times weren't so good. And maybe the bad stuff has to happen for the good stuff to get better. Cheever is always interesting, amusing, and witty, and though one might still detect traces of wry ironic foreshadowing here and there, she tells her story with a plain, unassuming craftsmanship that's enviable and original.