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The Last Street Before Cleveland by Joe Mackall

Posted in books with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2010 by Editors

The Last Street Before Cleveland by Joe Mackall

Every addict has a story about how they first got sober, just like every superhero has a story about getting their super powers, but it’s refreshing to find a story of an alcoholic that offers something different. The sordid drug related death of a childhood friend brings on an existential crisis for Joe Mackall, university professor and recovering alcoholic, who ends up returning to his working class neighborhood in Cleveland to search for meaning in life. Mackall captures the working class small town ethic (the story is billed as a memoir about class in America), but the way he describes his struggle with addiction is what really drew me in. Early in the work he lets the reader know he’s a recovering alcoholic. He hasn’t had a drink in over a dozen years (can’t remember the exact number). Mackall uses his addiction—the possiblity that he might return to drinking—to set the stakes. Although he doesn’t return to alcohol, he ends up in a pretty dark place with prescription drugs, made all the more dark by the threat of active alcoholism hanging over his head. The ending is satisfying and set up well: not unexpected but somehow still surprising. A great story.

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