Review of My Name is Ross: An Alcoholics Journey
CAN someone who hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol for 40 years still be considered an alcoholic? Ross Fitzgerald certainly thinks so, and his searingly honest memoir does an excellent job of explaining that rather odd-sounding perspective.
It must have taken a lot of guts for a well-known political commentator and academic like Fitzgerald to write such a brutal account of his struggle with alcohol.
The first chapters of the book, dealing with a decade-long bender that he began at the age of 14 , are the toughest to read – not that it becomes a riot of laughter afterwards.
The author doesn’t shy away from describing his despicable behaviour that shattered his relationship with his parents and harmed so many of those around him. Initially drawn to drink by its power to anaesthetise the emotional hollowness felt by his angst-ridden teenage self, Fitzgerald explains how the numbing effect soon dissipated, but the need to drink did not.
During those tumultuous years, Fitzgerald travelled the world but seemed to spend most of his time in a variety of psychiatric wards. Liberal amounts of electro-shock therapy and prolonged hospital stays were interspersed with lonely nights, emotionless dalliances and suicide attempts.
Fortunately, at the age of 26, Fitzgerald discovered Alcoholics Anonymous. The role that the organisation has played in his life is profound, and he does an inspiring job of describing his fervent belief in its healing powers. Fitzgerald argues powerfully that alcoholism is a curable illness, and that even the most seemingly hopeless cases can be healed with the support of friends, family and AA..
It might not be a ground-breaking message, but you will never see it put forward with more conviction or courage.
Terry Oberg, Courier-Mail, Saturday February 27, 2010