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Lighting up: How I Stopped Smoking, Drinking, and Everything Else I Loved in Life except Sexby Susan Shapiro
Synopses & Reviews
In the critically acclaimed Five Men Who Broke My Heart, Manhattan journalist Susan Shapiro revisited five self-destructive romances. In her hilarious, illuminating new memoir, Lighting Up, she rejects five self-destructive substances. This difficult quest for clean living starts with Shapiro’s shocking revelation that, at forty, her lengthiest, most emotionally satisfying relationship has been with cigarettes.
A two-pack-a-day smoker since the age of thirteen, Susan Shapiro quickly discovers that it’s impossible to be a writer, a nonsmoker, sane, and slender in the same year. The last time she tried to quit, she gained twenty-three pounds, couldn’t concentrate on work, and wanted to kill herself and her husband, Aaron, a TV comedy writer who hates her penchant for puffing away. Yet just as she’s about to choose her vice over her marriage vows, she stumbles upon a secret weapon.
Dr. Winters, “the James Bond of psychotherapy,” is a brilliant but unorthodox addiction specialist, a former chain-smoker himself. Working his weird magic on her psyche, he unravels the roots of her twenty-seven-year compulsion, the same dangerous dependency that has haunted her doctor father, her grandfather, and a pair of eccentric aunts from opposite sides of the family, along with Freud and nearly one in four Americans. Dr. Winters teaches her how to embrace suffering, then proclaims that her months of panic, depression, insecurity, vulnerability, and wild mood swings win her the award for “the worst nicotine withdrawal in the history of the world.”
Shapiro finally does kick the habit–while losing weight and finding career and connubial bliss–only to discover that the second she’s let go of her long-term crutch, she’s already replaced it with another fixation. After banishing cigarettes, alcohol, dope, gum, and bread from her day-to-day existence, she conquers all her demons and survives deprivation overload. But relying religiously on Dr. Winters, she soon realizes that the only obsession she has left is to quit is him. . . .
Never has the battle to stem substance abuse been captured with such wit, sophisticated insight, and candor. Lighting Up is so compulsively readable, it’s addictive.
"As a follow-up to her memoir Five Men Who Broke My Heart, Shapiro turns from romantic train wrecks to nicotine addiction. Her struggle to end a two-pack-a-day problem will be familiar to anyone who's tried to kick the habit; her version of suffering includes eating too many lollipops, yelling at her husband and encountering writer's block. To make quitting easier, Shapiro visits a psychologist who specializes in addictions and finds herself both repulsed and drawn to his aggressive style, which involves following his advice without question for a year. And what do you know: after several months, Shapiro's cigarette cravings diminish — but she finds she's addicted to her therapy sessions and looks forward to them in the same way that a smoker thinks of her next drag. More seriously, the removal of Shapiro's literal smoke screen reveals aspects of her life — family and relationship issues — that she's neglected for decades. Writing this memoir was obviously cathartic for Shapiro, although reading it can be trying at times (e.g., her discourses on her other vices, like pot and caffeine, are quite long-winded). But Shapiro's wit and honesty elevate the work, and her sessions with her cool, intelligent psychologist capture all that's both absurd and mundane about such encounters. Agent, Elizabeth Kaplan. (Jan. 4)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
After a 27-year two-pack-a-day smoking habit (from age 13 to 40), journalist Susan Shapiro decides it's time to quit once and for all. She turns to the oddly effective psychiatrist who convinced her boyfriend of many years to finally propose. She thinks, if he got her married, he can do anything. The brilliant doctor writes notes to her on the back of his business cards, like "Don't Trust Any Impulse," "You're Always Wrong," "Sex for Medicinal Purposes," and "Crying is Good." Nicotine, however, turns out to be only the tip of the iceberg. Soon, all of the things Susan loves — cigarettes, alcohol, gum, bread, and even the occasional joint — are off limits. But will visits to the shrink be the hardest addiction she's ever had to break?
In a whimsical memoir, the author of Five Men Who Broke My Heart, describes how she quit smoking after more than twenty years and eliminated other self-destructive habits--including alcohol, dope, gum, bread, and her psychiatrist--from her life. 27,500 first printing.
About the Author
Susan Shapiro's work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, The Nation, Cosmopolitan, People, and many other publications. She lives with her husband in Greenwich Village, where she teaches writing at New York University and the New School.
From the Hardcover edition.
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