Books: Bottle-Scarred

RECOVERY by JOHN BERRYMAN 254 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.


The celebrated brain of Alan Severance, M.D., Litt.D., has been damaged and is in mortal danger. Severance drinks. He drinks the same way he teaches, writes, lectures and experiments, which is to say monumentally.

Restraint is beyond him. The volume of his voice is a full roar; the volume of his drinking—on which he has believed "my science and art depended" —has borne him repeatedly to the edge of doom. As a last hope, he finds himself in Ward W of a midwestern hospital's treatment center, vowing to "get out of the whisky...

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