LUCKY JIM

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight - MON­ICA CARTER

James Hart, Cleis Press Soft­cover $18.95 (244pp), 978-1-62778-214-2 Hart deftly de­scribes the life of an al­co­holic and the chal­leng­ing but re­ward­ing life of re­cov­ery.

From jour­ney­ing down the road to priest­hood to din­ners with the Clin­tons to sex-fu­eled crack ad­dic­tion, Jim Hart has truly lived a life of ex­tremes. Lucky Jim is an ap­peal­ing mem­oir by an ordinary Joe who hailed from “a shanty Ir­ish en­clave in an oth­er­wise Jewish city by the sea” and ended up as Mr. Carly Si­mon. This mem­oir tes­ti­fies that even love, fame, and suc­cess are no cure for the lies we tell our­selves.

Raised in Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, Hart ex­pe­ri­enced a child­hood that was filled with fear and anx­i­ety. His hard-drink­ing fa­ther was a fright­en­ing pres­ence, which led four­teen-year-old Hart to seek so­lace in faith and en­ter the Gray­moor sem­i­nary. Religion and faith weave a strong thread through Hart’s life, and he pays homage to the beauty and depth of that life through philo­soph­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion and lush, lyri­cal lan­guage. Along with his early path to priest­hood, there are glimpses of Hart’s ho­mo­sex­ual feel­ings and his al­co­holism.

Mar­riage to his first wife lured Hart out of his col­le­giate sem­i­nary life. He de­scribes the birth of their se­verely dis­abled child, Ea­mon, his di­vorce and de­scent into crip­pling al­co­holism, and his re­cov­ery and se­cond mar­riage. Hart deftly de­scribes the life of an al­co­holic—the bars, the denizens of the drink­ing com­mu­nity, the many rock bot­toms—and the chal­leng­ing but re­ward­ing life of re­cov­ery. His re­la­tion­ship to Carly Si­mon teems with name-drop­ping and hu­mor­ous anec­dotes.

Lucky Jim swings from brav­ery to brag­ging at times, but the re­demp­tive mo­ments of this mem­oir are stel­lar.

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