"Dinsmoor has sketched out impressive impressionistic testimony to 1980s creative and partying spirit as well as its sober aftermath."– Kirkus Reviews
Dinsmoor (The Yoga Divas and Other Stories, 2010) recounts his stint in rehab for alcoholism in this new memoir.
In 2011, the author, a 53-year-old yoga instructor and freelance writer, checked himself in for a monthlong program of sobriety at the Wetlands Rehabilitation Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Convinced that he needed to quit drinking by a concerned cabal of friends and family, Dinsmoor was finally willing to seek professional help to curb a habit that had grown worse over the decades: “Time was when a six pack or a small bottle of wine would put me under, but now it took about twice that.” Life in rehab bore a strange resemblance to life back in elementary school: the center was segregated by gender, patients were monitored around the clock, and petty grievances took on inflated importance. Even a certain juvenile sense of humor arose: Dinsmoor remembers how one rehab technician admonished her patients after discovering a crude drawing of genitalia on a sign-in sheet: “From a distance, all I could see was a squiggle, but I was pretty sure I knew what it was.” His planned stay of 28 days ended up stretching to three months, and he recounts his adventures along the road to recovery, including going into withdrawal when he was taken off Ativan, accusing his roommate of secretly using cocaine, and having to bunk with the most active drug dealer in the compound. Through it all, the author tells his tale with an eye for the absurd and the humor of a man who thinks he’s the only sane cuckoo in the nest. He’s a confident writer with a practiced comic timing, and although his story isn’t particularly dramatic or traumatic, it offers welcome insight into the rehabilitation industry and the sorts of characters found therein. The most intriguing conclusion readers may draw from his experience is that despite the fraternity of sponsors and support groups, recovery is ultimately a solitary pursuit. As people fade in and out, fall off the wagon, or disappear, one is reminded that the only person who can keep a patient sober is the patient himself.
A funny, rambling account
of addiction and recovery.
A writer for the Chucklehead, a comedy troupe based in New York City in the 1980s and ’90s, shares fictionalized first-person short stories about that experience.
A student humor magazine editor at Dartmouth, Dinsmoor was working in medical publishing in New York City in the 1980s when he joined the Chucklehead comedy troupe, which experienced a measure of good press and popularity in its day, including a Vogue article entitled “They’ll Take Manhattan.” The collection’s 18 short stories feature an often overly imbibing Rob (Dinsmoor uses pseudonyms for other troupe members) in various high jinks: rehearsing/videotaping sketches (with one sketch represented in full), panicking about losing videotapes, etc. The last third of the collection describes events after the troupe’s unraveling, which began when Rob’s girlfriend/soon-to-be-wife wanted to move to the Boston area. These remaining stories include Rob driving some of the troupe in his “Death Car” to a member’s wedding in Atlantic City and his traveling to Hollywood for the long-time-coming nuptials of troupe member Angie, who on several occasions flirted with Rob, and her boyfriend, the troupe’s musical director, in the mid-1990s. The collection concludes with an elegiac reunion at the funeral of a troupe member who died of AIDS. Dinsmoor (The Yoga Diva and Other Stories, 2011) has a knack for creating slice-of-life moments and droll endings. “Already they were covered with fresh posters still wet with glue,” Dinsmoor notes at the end of the “Raid on the East Village,” a saga about the troupe risking arrest to put up some very short-lived promotional flyers. Some readers may wish for more real-life details, especially regarding the AIDS tragedy and Dinsmoor’s apparently now-ex wife. Still, Dinsmoor has sketched out impressive impressionistic testimony to 1980s creative and partying spirit as well as its sober aftermath.
Wry reminiscences of the joys and struggles of being a young comedy artist in the 1980s.