Full of humour, honesty and hope
WHEN he was 14 and dressed in his school uniform, Ross Fitzgerald stood in the public bar of a Melbourne pub and at 11am ordered a brandy, lime and soda. The barman suggested he take off his hat. And so began the alcoholic life of an eminent Australian academic who, until he joined AA, spent every Christmas Day in a mental hospital between the ages of 16 and 25.
“I was so enclosed and enmeshed in myself”, he writes, “that I virtually didn’t see anything outside”.
Sober for 40 years, Dr Fitzgerald calls himself an atheist. His AA group is the Higher Power that alcoholics rely on to remove their compulsion to drink. “These days in some sort of primitive ‘prayer’, I sometimes speak directly to the moon and the sea and the stars, he says. The sight of a Willy-Wagtail especially cheers him up and the little dancing bird appears throughout his book. In the beginning is an alcoholic and in the end there is still the alcoholic, but My Name is Ross is one long look backwards at a wonderful life that would have ended prematurely in suicide had he not found a way to stop drinking.
Terrible hallucinations propelled Ross to get help after he was hospitalised six times in Cleveland, Ohio aged 25 and it’s hard to believe this sodden human being self-obsessed, self-centred, a user of women, an abuser of trust could transform into a vibrant voice for free speech, an author of 32 books and a trusted servant of many governments, as well as a man beloved by his wife and daughter and his many friends from all walks of life.
Full of humour, honesty and hope. Highly recommended.
Barbara Farrelly – South Coast Register 10 March 2010