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My Name Is Bill
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About the Author

Susan Cheever is the bestselling author of thirteen previous books, including five novels and the memoirs Note Found in a Bottle and Home Before Dark. Her work has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Boston Globe Winship Medal. She is a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the Corporation of Yaddo, and a member of the Author's Guild Council. She teaches in the Bennington College M.F.A. program. She lives in New York City with her family.

Reviews

The first half of Wilson's life was a perpetual battle with alcohol; the second, a continual struggle to secure both his day-to-day sobriety and the organization that became Alcoholics Anonymous. Cheever's portrayal of Wilson's story never resorts to hagiography and doesn't dodge the controversies that other biographers have exploited, such as Wilson's womanizing and LSD use. The author of Note Found in a Bottle places greater emphasis on Wilson's rural Vermont childhood; his father's early desertion; his mother's stern, Calvinist nature; and the influence of his few male friends and authority figures. As a boy and adolescent, Wilson bounced among various activities and social groups, seldom sticking with one for long. He tended to seize upon short-term promises of happiness and security, whether a questionable job prospect or, with disastrous consequences, his first alcoholic drink. He grabbed impulsively at the first marriage opportunity, with Lois Burnham, four years his senior, and his drinking severely tested their marriage. In 1935, Wilson's contact with the Oxford Group and its Christian reform philosophy, and with Robert Smith, an Ohio doctor and alcoholic, laid a fragile foundation for the program and fellowship they would build into the worldwide organization for recovering alcoholics. Until his death in 1971, Wilson worked to strengthen the evolution of AA and never entirely abandoned his search for a better cure. Although the compression of so much material disserves Cheever's intentions, the resulting lumpiness is oddly consistent with Wilson's life and character. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. (Feb.) Forecast: The book has a built-in audience (AA claims to have two million members), and could benefit from the publication of an AA book specifically designed for women, The Little Red Book for Women, coming from Hazelden in February. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Not a perfect life but ultimately a success; from a best-selling author. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Distinctive...and telling."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"Susan Cheever...decants the ups and downs of a remarkable man [and] does so in her distinctive style: succinct chapters, pithy profiles and telling detail...even more important are the insights and empathy so credibly her own as a reformed drinker who attended meetings of AA with her father, novelist John Cheever."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"[A] wise, well-reported life story of the man who changed the way the world deals with addiction."
-- Chicago Sun-Times
"As the biography of one of the most humane and beneficial Americans who ever lived, it is a national treasure."
-- Kurt Vonnegut

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