Addiction — whether our own or someone else’s — can be a tricky subject to tackle. While it can come in the form of sex, food, gambling, or even plastic surgery, the drug and alcohol variety, so steeped in controversy and social stigma, can be particularly overwhelming to tackle without risking judgment, melodrama, or pity. Does the successful addiction memoir awaken sympathy in its readers, or empathy? Does it shock, or prescribe, or inspire?
In this session, we’ll look at the many ways contemporary writers like Mary Karr, J.R. Moehringer, Sarah Hepola, and David Carr approach the addiction memoir, from detached reportage to gut-spilling confessionals, and discuss strategies to approach the subject with clear intentions.