Sober Is My New Drunk, by Paul Carr

Sometimes enough is enough, and memoirist Paul Carr exemplifies this maxim. His previous books - Bringing Nothing To The Party and The Upgrade - were tales told from the bottom of a champagne glass. The first book, a rollicking story about how Carr started and destroyed an Internet business, was punctuated by drunken antics that seemed to define the Carr character: part imp, part jerk, and part Lost Boy. The second book, a treatise on how to live in hotels rather than renting an apartment, is really more about drinking too much at all the wrong places.

In short, over time, Carr became his own character and his only job as a writer was to try to remember what went down the morning after the bottles of beer, whiskey, and champagne finally dwindled down to a raft of empties floating in the slush of ice at the bottom of a VIP bucket. Well, goodbye to all that.

His third book - really more of a longer essay - is a Byliner project called Sober Is My New Drunk. It costs $1.99 and can be read in an hour. It is, in short, a step-by-step look at how to stop drinking the Paul Carr way and, although it may not be useful for a majority, in the Venn diagram of people like Paul Carr (plugged-in web users for whom Wi-Fi is a secondary addiction) and alcoholics, the overlap is probably not small. There is a bit more on the topic here, although the essay is worth a full read.

In his first two books, Carr came off as a well-to-do Poe Ballantine, writing from the road to ruin. In this book, he's more of a buddy who has seen and done a little too much and is letting you know how to avoid that road.

His advice is fairly straight-forward and will make some folks uneasy. In his effort to give up drinking he eschewed the 12-step method and basically did a blog post. He posits that, like any worthy project, a statement of intent is needed to follow through. He wrote:

You don’t need anywhere near that kind of audience for public quitting to be effective. Posting on Facebook or Twitter for just your friends to see will have almost the same effect as posting on a blog. If you’re worried about your professional reputation if you “come out” as an addict, you might want to consider sending a group e-mail to a dozen or so people you trust. Believe me, word will get around. The key is for people you encounter on a day-to-day basis to be aware that you have a problem and are trying to fix it. Those people—not a group of well-meaning strangers in AA—are the ones who will be your greatest allies in quitting.

Alcoholism is a difficult subject. Like forms of religious experience and certain health manias, those experienced in the space are often vocal about their methods and dedicated to evangelizing their success. Therefore, it took some guts for Carr to make the recommendations he does. Although some would call his actions irresponsible, I'm more likely to call them brave.

Carr quotes Mignon McLaughlin on his quitting letter: "the chief reason for drinking is the desire to behave in a certain way, and to be able to blame it on alcohol." His essay, perhaps, is a step onto the path of better behavior. But, as a dedicated fan of his various hijinks, I'm looking forward to seeing what he can write with the clarity of a bon vivant doing a little less of the bon and a little more of the vivant.

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