Nothing Good Can Come from This by Kristi Coulter

This is revealing in ways the author didn't mean. It's juvenile, not heroic or enlightening.

Stories about high heels, trips to Paris and Germany, being absurdly overpaid, deserving to explore love interests outside of her marriage, first class tickets, three star meals, therapeutic purchases of overpriced handbags, sex in the back seats of cars, the I'm chic for still liking grunge bands in her 40s, the burden of guilting parents who still managed to provide for all the middle class expectations of a girl whose friends unfairly got to buy Prada and to go on yacht trips and to drive BMWs, as compared to her shabby Mazda, shitty college boyfriends, etc.

By my reading, across all the essays: the author adds all of this up to a justified account of why a bottle+ of wine a night was a good idea, until it wasn't.

I don't doubt those circumstances or their intensity, but pressure is common to all kinds of indulgences. They don't last, and chasing the dragon sucks.

Rather than forsaking the fleeting for meaning, like the millions of hermetics and bodhisattvas before her; the author doubles down on how muted sex, food, and material were with booze, how much she must've missed out on because of booze, and how she is now all the more open to all of it without booze. And here's the kicker: all of this is said as if booze obviously isn't in the same category as sex, food, and material. The book's opening lines — the poem/dialog about filling a hole — communicate this. But the rest of the book goes on to contradict. Which isn't to say the only correct answer would be for the author to wind up a nun on some deserted hill, but one might expect a level of humility and suspicion towards other potential vices, perhaps some assertion to find more significant meaning to life. Instead, you get a swan dive right into restaurants, (consensual) extramarital relationships, pocketbooks, and running. Given the amount of introspection — she wrote a book, after all — this naivety and lack of epiphany had me rolling my eyes, constantly.

I don't see the author's variety of alcoholism as self-medication from some unbearable personal burden, but rather another abused outlet for pleasure in a world where pleasure and entertainment are increasingly, frictionlessly available. My disappointment isn't because only the truly injured are worthy of pity or help or interest, but rather because the infinitely indulgent is a new and relatable thing, and it went unexplored. Instead the whole book seemed like a desperate, petulant attempt to conflate the two — self-medication and runaway pleasure — so as to justify the continued, lazy pursuit of pleasure in all of its other forms (albeit sober). But the untold story of how to cope with a world that's constantly bombarding you with imperatives to consume, both implicit and explicit and at an exponentially accelerating rate: that's what's at stake, what the author is dealing with; but it's not what the author talks about (primarily).

Some of these essays scratched that itch. But ultimately, no. And fair enough, perhaps that's not the author's experience, and thus not her story to tell. But the one she does tell is not one that's particularly interesting or sympathetic.