Instructions on the Use of Alcohol – An Excerpt from James Brown’s This River

A brief excerpt from This River from a piece titled “Instructions on the Use of Alcohol”: Part I You’re young, maybe 9 or 10, and your parents are throwing a party.  All the adults are laughing and talking too loudly, in general having a good time, and you put two and two together.  What makes them happy comes out of those bottles on the kitchen counter. The brown ones, you learn soon enough, contain whiskey and scotch.  The clear ones hold vodka and gin and that odd-shaped bottle with the long neck, something called Midori, contains a thick, syrupy green liquid.  That’s the one that intrigues you most, and when the adults aren’t looking you pour yourself a glass.  You sneak it into your room.  You lock the door.  At first you sniff at it, and because it doesn’t smell so good you pinch your nostrils shut before you take a swallow. It burns the back of your throat.  It makes your eyes water.  You shake your head, and for a few minutes, until the alcohol takes effect, you can’t understand how anyone in their right mind could drink this stuff.  But then a tingling sensation begins to spread through your chest, your face is warm and flushed, and you’re suddenly light headed.  You feel good, you feel great.  It’s as if you’ve made a major discovery, a real inroad to the secret of a good life, and it only makes sense that if one drink has this effect on you that a second will make you feel even better.  You finish the glass and sneak another.  You repeat...

Interview With James Brown on Addiction Inbox

Here’s an excerpt from this intriguing and insightful Q&A on Addiction Inbox with author James Brown: “Q. Tom McGuane once referred to alcoholism as “the writer’s black lung disease.” Why do you think so many prominent writers have been addicted to alcohol or other drugs? James Brown: The list of alcoholic writers is long: Hemingway, Kerouac, Eugene O’Neil, Dorothy Parker, Fitzgerald, Jean Rhys, Poe, Faulkner, and on and on. The only rationalization I can come up with, at least in regard to my own addiction, is spending long, long hours alone in a room, trapped in my own head, imagination, feelings, memories and thoughts, and when it’s time to resurface, to leave that room and return to the world that exists outside the sheltered perimeters of my mind, I’d want a drink to ease myself back into it. Without that drink, and the many that followed it, because not even from the beginning could I or did I want to stop after just one or two, it was stimuli overload.  Lights seemed brighter.  Noises louder. I was expected by my wife and children to just return to earth and join their lives when a big part of me was still locked up in that room. But these are rationalizations. As the years passed, and the alcohol and drugs took greater hold of me, using and drinking was no longer about easing back into the world but eluding it altogether, where I didn’t have to feel or think.   Did booze or drugs help me creatively? No. That’s myth, a lie, this notion of the tragic artist. Outside of Kerouac’s On...

JDPR NEWS

Victoria Patterson interviews James Brown for Nervous Breakdown: “You write about what you care most about, what you know most about, what you think most about, the memories that haunt, your obsessions, your shortcomings, your successes and failures, and how all these experiences and feelings have shaped how you see yourself and others, particularly those you love most in this crazy world.”    ...