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Drink and the demons within

1 March 2010 1,340 views No Comment

ROSS Fitzgerald hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol since November 1969. But alcohol has been the defining influence on his life. He began drinking as a 14-year-old (the barman suggested he take off his school hat when he asked for a brandy, lime and soda) and spent much of the next decade drunk.

Fitzgerald says he drank to pretend he wasn’t afraid and because of a difficult relationship with his mother and his genetic predisposition to addiction.

In person, he seems to inspire active like or dislike; in words, he is immensely likeable.

An academic, commentator and author, Fitzgerald has had a productive life, one he believes would have been cut short by suicide had he not started drinking and by alcohol had he not stopped drinking at 25. Despite being an atheist, Fitzgerald is a staunch believer in the power of Alcoholics Anonymous and devotes many words to its benefits. His constant return to this theme could become tedious but never does, due to his talent for dropping in funny or poignant stories about himself and others. Fitzgerald’s talent for writing entertainingly combines with his openness about his life and insight into broader topics.

This book might in part be a step in the AA process of revealing past wrongs, but unlike much writing of this ilk, it can be rewardingly read by others.

Lorien Kaye, The Age, February 20, 2010