09 Aug Book Review – Double-Double: A Dual Memoir of Alcoholism, by Martha Grimes and Ken Grimes
Memoirs about alcoholism are about as common these days as dandelions in a neglected lawn. Some are better than others, but all have a message of sorts. How well that message is communicated depends, in part, on who is telling the story, their talents and abilities, even their willingness to face the unvarnished truths about themselves and their addiction and recovery journey.
How rare, then, to have the opportunity to hear two persons from the same family get together to discuss their individual and unique paths from alcoholism to recovery. That the two in question happen to be best-selling murder mystery author Martha Grimes and her son, Ken Grimes, a PR and marketing professional, is just the icing on the cake.
For one thing, while mother is quite comfortable spinning words into phrases and telling a story, it took quite a bit of prodding and encouragement to get son to go along with the idea. After all, argued the son, he wasn’t a writer. What could he possibly say that would make a difference? Lacking the ease with which mom spun words, he admitted to being a little less equipped to contribute much to the process.
Over repeated discussions at a favorite coffee house, Martha convinced Ken that it would be truly valuable for others trying to overcome addiction to alcohol to see how two people from the same family viewed alcoholism and what paths each took to recovery.
It should be noted at the outset that, far from being overshadowed by his famous mother, Ken does a good job at telling his story, wordsmith or not. That he stuck to the memoir-writing process is a testament to his frankness and willingness to share his experiences so others can benefit from it.
Indeed, it is a fascinating look from the inside and one that should offer hope and encouragement to anyone who is either contemplating going into rehab for alcohol or drug abuse or has someone in the family who can/should/might benefit from doing so.
How did they divvy up the tale-telling? There’s really no mention of whether they sent emails with attachments or slotted certain topics to begin with or whether mom sent son a draft and invited him to do a “take” on the subject.
The actual story is more or less an alternating of points of view, with mom writing one chapter (MG) and son doing the next (KG), although not always consecutively. Sometimes, Martha runs with a subject or a perspective on her recovery for a few chapters, while at other times, it’s the son’s turn to tell the story of how he became an alcoholic and what route he found worked best for him to achieve and maintain his sobriety.
One thing that will prove instructive to many is the fact that Martha and Ken Grimes took entirely different paths to recovery. One fully embraced treatment and the 12-step groups. The other found a different approach to sobriety seemed more natural and appealing – and worked.
Which did which? Read the book to find out. As to how effective this dual memoir is at inspiring alcoholics to embrace sobriety, to forego their intense love affair with booze and follow a sober path — that is another individual judgment. The book is entertaining, funny and poignant, and different from other books on addiction and recovery out there, no matter what else anyone thinks.
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