A lot of us folks in recovery have big collections of self-help and memoir books, and with good reason. Books give us solace, they help us see how other people deal with similar challenges, they are a source of community through contact with other minds, and, as articulated by Eva Hagberg, this week’s guest on the Flourishing After Addiction podcast, books, and particularly memoirs, are a way of trying on different “moral selves.”
Eva is an author who has written beautifully about her own addiction and recovery in her memoir, How to be Loved. It’s an honest and raw account that includes her experiences with chronic medical conditions, grief, loss, romances, and friendship. In this episode, we talk about being seen and wanting to be known, the creative process, what she has learned from memoirs—addiction and otherwise—and her own experience with different varieties of 12-step recovery. And, with my own book coming out soon, she gives me some great advice about focusing on what matters most.
Eva Hagberg is an author, cultural and architectural historian, architecture critic, speaker, and more. Her critically-acclaimed memoir, How to Be Loved, is out now from Mariner Books. In a fun twist, we also talk about an unexpected set of connections between recovery and architecture, related to her next project: a biography of Aline Louchheim Saarinen, forthcoming from Princeton University Press. She teaches at Columbia University in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, and at Bard College in the Language & Thinking Program. She lives in Brooklyn. Find her at her website, or on Twitter.
In this episode:
- Ira Glass on the “taste gap:” “Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste — the thing that got you into the game — your taste is still killer, and your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you”
- Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart, Girlhood, Abandon Me, and Body Work.
- A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance, by Jane Juska
- Dani Shapiro, author of Slow Motion, Devotion, Inheritance, and other books.
- The sociologist Robin Room analyzing codependency and Adult Children of Alcoholics, in the context of other 12-step thinking: Alcoholics Anonymous as a Social Movement
- Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
- Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, by Peter Cameron
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