Calloway (Taming the Dragon, 1991) offers a memoir about abuse, addiction, and eventual redemption.
Beginning with the death of the author’s mother when he was 5, it’s obvious from the outset that a troubled childhood is afoot. He had undiminishing guilt over his mother’s passing (“Even my mom’s dad was constantly telling me that momma wouldn’t have died if she hadn’t given birth to me”), an abusive father, and a self-destructive sister, and he seemed destined for later personal problems. His biggest one, however, arrived in the form of substance abuse. The author describes the first time he experimented with alcohol: “I drank, got drunk, blacked out, passed out, came to and wanted to do it again.” These experiences led eventually to arrests, harder drugs, and plenty of missing time: “The time line of the events in my life from the ages of twenty and twenty three are a little hazy.” It wasn’t until a 12-step program and exposure to a religious class called “A Course in Miracles” that things began to turn around. Though his struggle to get his life on track wasn’t easy, he includes details, such as his asking for forgiveness from those he wronged, which help to make the story personable. Some descriptions do prove dry, however, as when the author depicts his father as having “the bigger than life gravelly voice, the stern matter of fact demeanor and the physical prowess.” However, what the story lacks in polish it makes up for in sheer honesty; the author includes accounts of relapses and behavior that few would be proud of. This frankness will surely appeal to readers who are eager for a warts-and-all journey of self-discovery.
A highly readable, if occasionally blunt, exploration of recovery.