Lessons and Carols: A Meditation on Recovery

Backorder (temporarily out of stock)
Product Details
$25.00  $23.25
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Publish Date
5.89 X 8.73 X 0.85 inches | 0.83 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate
About the Author

John West is a technologist and writer, currently reporting the news with code at the Wall Street Journal, where his work has won multiple awards and been a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Previously, he worked at the MIT Media Lab and the digital publication Quartz. He holds an MFA in writing from the Bennington Writing Seminars and degrees in philosophy and music performance from Oberlin College. He lives in Boston with his partner, their daughter, and a cat.

"In the middle of Lessons and Carols, John West claims he is 'no poet.' But Lessons and Carols itself argues most convincingly that he is a poet. And he is the best kind of poet--a poet who can make moments of the highest lyricism also moments of perfect clarity, one whose way of saying is necessary to what he's saying. Lessons and Carols is a beautiful book, a heartbreaking book, a book that with its fullness reaffirms life, and so it is a gift of a book."
--Shane McCrae, author of The Gilded Auction Block

"In poetic prose of spare, searing beauty, John West helps us see Christmas as another name for the human condition. These haunted, humane meditations are at once elegy and hymn, psalms of ascent and lament. West finds possibilities for language that birth possibilities for how to be. A singular book."
--James K. A. Smith
editor in chief of Image and author of How (Not) to Be Secular and How to Inhabit Time

"With sensitivity and wild intelligence, John West enters a psychic and emotional netherworld, moving among the shades of addiction, the fog of confusion, to emerge changed, connected to life and to love and to art. Lessons and Carols enlists the power of poetry, the consolation of philosophy, and the intense scrutiny of the autobiographical to describe--lyrically and movingly--the reconstruction of the self. Lessons and Carols is not a conventional story of adversity overcome, but the narrative of the author's commitment to the making of a soul."
--Mark Wunderlich
author of The Earth Avails and God of Nothingness

"John West's Lessons and Carols envelops the reader in sound and feeling, a melodic and observant book unafraid to circle the complexities of love and parenthood. Smart, potent, and fearless writing."
--Megan Mayhew Bergman
author of How Strange a Season and Almost Famous Women

"Memoirs composed of sections are tempting to a writer, but the deeper difficulties belie the seeming ease. The overall rhythm, the weave of recurrence, the manipulation of the timeline--every element must be tuned by instinct. John West has that instinct. In Lessons and Carols, he offers a wincingly vivid account of freeing himself from the long embrace of alcohol. Self-scouring at every turn, the memoir eventually pays off in shocks of joy and affirms the grounding sobriety of parenthood."
--Sven Birkerts
editor of AGNI and author of Then, Again: The Art of Time in the Memoir

"Lessons and Carols fearlessly examines ideas about innocence, resentment, loss, and renewal, asking, can we actually change or are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes forever? John West's pursuit of truth and beauty in this book is both masterful and unforgettable."
--Chelsea Hodson
author of Tonight I'm Someone Else

"'This happened, ' John West writes at the end of one chapter. 'It is also a metaphor.' His words might serve as an epigraph for his frank, edgy, hopeful story about recovery and slippage and squalor and eruptions of love and sudden epiphanies. These nine memorable 'lessons and carols' take us through episodes in an unsettled life interrupted by faith, love and a baby. For those who have struggled with addiction or depression, and those who love them, this is a gritty, gutsy, unabashed and surprising book about hope."
--Marilyn McEntyre
author of Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies and When Poets Pray