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August 1976

About Alcoholism - Alcoholism Information, Research and Treatment

Book Review - My Name Is Mary. . .

Many of these items are contrary to AA philosophy. Their publication here does not mean that the Grapevine endorses or approves them; they are offered solely for your information.

The woman who is narrator in Anita Katzman's short novel faces a situation common these days. Widowed in her still-vital middle years, her children grown, she must learn to cope with a life that is mostly solitary. She is sufficiently well-off to shuttle between a New York apartment and a Florida beach house; she does not have to work. She is again in love, but her man is a philanderer; the book takes the form of letters written to him and often not mailed.

Does this sound like an empty life? In one way, this woman is different from the average: She has the good fortune to be an alcoholic sober ten years in AA. Given her present circumstances, most readers would expect her story to be a desperate saga of bottle-fighting. Instead, it is a totally convincing, deeply felt illustration of the way the AA program affects problems unrelated to alcohol. Caught up in emotional turmoil, Mary turns to AA principles and meetings in an effort to retain her identity as a person. Yet she reaches for self-forgetfulness, too, becoming absorbed with the birds and sea creatures along the shore and the endlessly varying people of the city streets. In an impressionistic style, the writer weaves closely observed details into the wholeness of a life that--far from being empty--is outwardly busy and useful and inwardly rich.

Published by Harper & Row 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022; price, $5.9.5

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