I love twentieth century music and I hope you all will enjoy listening to Carl Nielsen's Wind Quintet Op. 43 performed by the Galliard Ensemble.
The Lost Weekend by Charles Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was quite the eye opener. I have never suffered from alcohol or drug addictions nor have I lived with anyone suffering from this sickness. Sickness it certainly is. How someone arrives at this state, I don't know. I'm sure there are a lot of different causes, both environmental and genetic, but based on this semi-autobiographical account by Charles Jackson, I think that one's mental faculties become seriously impaired.
The Lost Weekend is about one man's nightmarish life. His entire reason to live is to get that next drink. Don Birnam is a writer, we are not informed as to how successful he is. Not very, the reader gathers since he lives with his brother and has no money. What little money he is able to beg, borrow and steal is quickly liquidated, pun intended.
The story takes place in 1936 on the East Side of Manhatten. Don Birnam is sitting in a chair in his brother's apartment. His brother is about to go away for the weekend and he pleads with his brother to come with him. They argue back and forth, but Don is adamant that he is not leaving his chair. His brother finally gives up and leaves.
Thus begins a drinking binge that starts on Friday and doesn't end until the following Tuesday, when his brother returns.
We live inside Don's mind. We know his every thought. We see him lie at the bar, so people will buy him drinks, he lies to the woman at the laundromat who doesn't want to give him money because she knows what he'll do with it, but it's just a loan you see...yeah right...here take it and go away...
We listen to his thoughts as he becomes inebriated and delusional. It's so painful to watch. He takes a taxi to an upscale bar where he drinks himself into believing that he can steal the purse from the woman next to him and get away with it, because he has super powers. He's smarter than everyone else in the whole world. Then the humiliating exposure as the woman and her boyfriend demand the purse back and the bouncer throws him out.
But where can he get the next drink? Where's his money? He has it, then he doesn't have it. Here it is in his coat pocket. Now it's not there. What happened to it? He doesn't know what's going on.
He decides he must sell his typewriter. He carries it blocks and blocks to a pawn shop, but the shop is closed. Why is it closed? He has to carry his typewriter back. It's miserably heavy.
What day is it? Is it still Friday? No it's Saturday.
Then he's in the hospital. How did he end up there? That's right, he fell down the stairs as he was returning to the apartment.
The doctor and nurse treat him and the other patients, it's a ward for drug addicts and alcoholics, like specimens. His head is badly fractured and they want him to stay until he is properly treated, but he refuses. They give him a pain killer which is great! Where can he get more of this stuff? He wheedles the nurse but the nurse won't budge.
He leaves and somehow makes it back home. The phone rings incessantly, probably his brother checking on him, but he won't answer. He doesn't want to speak to anyone or see anyone.
He finds he has to see someone because the woman who has been trying to contact him all weekend finally shows up at his apartment. The janitor has let her in.
She takes him to her house and tries to get him to shower and rest. The next morning when she goes to work, he rifles through her stuff to see if she has any liquor. He finally leaves with her fur coat and goes to hock it.
He was somebody once. Sometimes his thoughts drift to his past. He went to university, taught in university, but somehow he ended up homeless, jobless and obsessing over how to connive another drink.
Charles Jackson wrote this story in 1946. He had a rich source of material to draw on, his own life. He fought his demons for years, but finally, in 1967, in his room in the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan, he died of alcohol and drug poisoning.
This is a horrible, excruciating and beautifully written book and I highly recommend it.
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This postcard came from China. I always like to tell my Chinese postcard pals that my son is living there and learning their language. Derek tells me he is now dreaming in Chinese.
Here is the front so you can see the interesting stamps.