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The Merry Recluse


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About the Author

Caroline Knapp lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and died in May 2002 at the age of forty-two.


At a particular point in time, in "a magical, transformative moment," Knapp (Drinking: A Love Story) describes herself as "the merry recluse" and realizes she is "happy and alone." Arranged thematically, this collection of poignant essays, written over a 15-year period, deals with grief and sobriety, friendship and love, addictions, shyness, and loneliness. From the potent images of "Life Without Anesthesia" (giving up an addiction) to the artful whimsy of "From Ares to Ridicules Greek Gods for Modern Times" (creating contemporary gods to combat confusion and despair), Knapp captures elements of the human condition and reflects on them. Her description of her battle with anorexia nervosa is vivid and poignant: "At a time when I felt essentially worthless, starving was the one thing I could say I was good at." Her commentary on acquiring a dog is filled with wry humor: "You notice at this point that you have begun to think like a dog." Her declaration that "Life is hard, growth is painful, joy can be elusive" is an eloquent testimonial to her journey from alcoholism to sobriety. Knapp's writing is powerful and compelling throughout. While her worldview is familiar, her representation of it is striking. Her untimely death at the age of 43 is a cause for regret. Recommended for all public and academic libraries. Kathryn R. Bartelt, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Most memorable...are [Knapp's] forthright, unsentimental examinations of her life as a woman living alone and working alone... An intelligent voice that spoke with grace, honesty, and humor."

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