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Book review: 'The trip to echo spring' by Olivia Laing

An impressive and genuinely moving novel, says Dr Culley

Written almost as a personal journal, describing literally the author’s journey in the form of her road trip across America, this book also tells the stories of six of the great writers of our times, all of whom were renowned alcoholics.

Coming from a family touched by alcohol herself, through this book the author narrates her voyage of discovery in her search for an understanding and explanation of this often devastating illness.

In her travels she retraces the footsteps of such literary talents as Williams and Hemingway, and in doing so weaves in some of the background to great works of art with a better understanding of the lives of the writers - their motivations for drink, their struggles with the disease, and its personal cost.

Through her genuinely impressive writing talent she manages to weave in seamlessly some of the science and psychology of alcoholism and addiction, along with the physical manifestations and the social impacts that are frequently what bring us as clinicians into contact with the disease.

A page turner as a novel in its own right, it is also fascinating, enlightening, thought provoking, and genuinely moving. Whilst deeply tragic in parts it somehow manages to leave us upbeat. Highly recommended.

9/10

Dr Kate Culley is a GP locum in Eastbourne


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