Carver: Recovery


And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.”

—Inscription on the tombstone of Raymond Carver along with his poem “Gravy.”


This takes me back again to Olivia Laing’s story in The Trip to Echo Spring on the relationships of six award-winning, but alcohol-addicted, authors: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver. Knowing that Carver is the only one of these six majorly talented American writers who went into significant 12-step recovery for any length of time tells us a great deal about addiction—how cunning and baffling the disease is even for the most brilliant and creative of minds.

I hope you have a chance at some time to read my favorite Carver story, “A Small Good Think” about a dying son, his birthday cake, and the baker of the cake. Make sure you read Carver’s original version, published after his death by his wife, Tess Gallagher, in Beginners (Vintage, 2015).

For people caught in this disease, their addiction, alcohol, drugs, sex, relationships, work—all become their God, their higher power. It is impossible to find the relationship with God that our life continues to call us to when there is something else in our “God hole.” The paradox, of course, is that the answer, the awakening, the Lazarus experience for any addiction is a spiritual one: turning our lives and wills over to the care of the God of our understanding.


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Book Signing Wordsworth Books

Saturday, November 2, 2019 1 to 3 pm

Just in time for the holidays

A Spiritual Rx for Advent Christmas, and Epiphany

The Sequel to A Spiritual Rx for Lent and Easter

Both are $18. Money from sale of the books goes to Camp Mitchel Camp and Conference Center in Arkansas or Hurricane Relief in

The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast