Neil Steinberg and Sara Bader, editors of Out of the Wreck I Rise: A Literary Companion to Recovery, recently sat down with the hosts of NPR’s Weekend Edition to discuss their pathbreaking anthology, which makes use of the longstanding and complicated relationship between creativity and addiction to offer a resource for the seventeen million plus adults living afflicted in the United States alone.
From the transcript:
SIMON (host): Let me ask you, Neil, what’s the thinking behind this anthology?
STEINBERG: Recovery is difficult. And it’s hard enough just chemically giving up the substance you crave, but it’s also hard intellectually and emotionally. You’re giving up something you love, and you have to replace it with something. And I wanted to try to replace it with a story, with a narrative that recovery is the path of the hero. And Sara and I try to use that by using quotes from poems and songs and stories and letters from these writers throughout time who faced the same challenge and wrote about it. And the purpose of the book – we call it a companion so that it goes with you and helps you on this very difficult journey.
SIMON: Where do you find all this stuff, Sara Bader?
BADER: We mine memoirs and letter collections and diaries and notebooks and speeches and Twitter feeds – from pop culture going back hundreds of years. So we really tried to find material that people have not read before, which was important to us.
SIMON: Yeah. Neil, your very first words in this book are, it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do. How does anyone who hasn’t been through that understand that?
STEINBERG: That’s one of the purposes of the book. I think there’s a lot of confusion about addiction, even among addicts and alcoholics. They think it’s just this stupid decision that you keep making ’cause you’re stupid. And so one thing I hope the book does is explain to people what this is – that it’s this pervasive obsession and mental illness – just the grip it has on people. And you see these excerpts, you know, John Phillips talking about how he can’t go out of the house because he has to shoot up every 15 minutes. It’s this blinding compulsion. You know, these are the greatest writers of all time explaining something which is, at its heart, almost a mystery, a baffling mystery.
Here’s the segment, in full:
To read the full transcript from Weekend Edition, click here.
To read more about Out of the Wreck I Rise, click here.