SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL
A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption (New York: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2005)
By Christopher Kennedy Lawford ’83
In a nutshell: I was born with the American dream fulfilled. I blew it all, drowning in a sea of alcohol and drugs. My best friend and my father died. I was alone and bankrupt in all categories.
As the oldest child of upper-class English actor Peter Lawford, and President John F. Kennedy’s sister Patricia, Christopher Kennedy Lawford inherited privilege, prestige, and pain. And the greatest of these was pain, as this candid account of Lawford’s seventeen years of self-medication with drugs and alcohol makes brutally clear. By the time he was thirteen, two of his uncles had been assassinated, his parents had divorced rancorously, and he had discovered LSD.
The fringe benefits of membership in the west and east coast elites—watching Marilyn Monroe demonstrate the twist, meeting Willie Mays in the locker room at Shea Stadium, hanging out with Liz Taylor, sailing in Bob Dylan’s yacht—turned out to be poor compensation for “never knowing the ease of having one’s own life.”
As a first-year student at BC Law, Lawford was charged with possession of heroin. In a recent telephone interview, he explained that he included that story “to illustrate how completely oblivious I was to everything beyond the need to feed the 800-pound gorilla,” as he calls his addiction. “I was lucky to graduate,” he said, and he recognizes that he put the school in an embarrassing position, for which he apologized years ago as part of the process of getting sober. “If there’s someone I didn’t offer an apology to, I’m offering one now,” he said.
The final quarter of the book documents Lawford’s painful progress towards a drug-free life and an authentic sense of self, as an actor, and more recently, as a writer. Ultimately, Symptoms of Withdrawal is a hopeful tale, a demonstration that “no matter how crazy life gets, or you become, there is a way back.” Of all the responses to the book, Lawford said, he has been most gratified by the fact that his three sisters loved it, and by the “great correspondence” from people dealing with addiction and recovery.
Hailed by Norman Mailer as the first of the Kennedy clan to be a good writer, Lawford is now at work on a novel about a man who has “dysfunctional relationships with women.” Autobiographical? He would not say. He probably feels that he has shared quite enough for the time being.
VOICES OF BROOKLINE
(Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Peter E. Randall Publisher LLC, 2005)
By Larry Ruttman ’58
Larry Ruttman loves words, music, and the Boston Red Sox. He also loves his hometown of Brookline, where he has practiced law for forty-eight years. Voices of Brookline is an insider’s portrait of a town that Ruttman sees as “a microcosm of democracy,” an oral history of an entire community comprising more than seventy interviews with town residents ranging from high school students to public figures like Michael Dukakis and columnist Ellen Goodman. In a telephone interview, Ruttman, seventy-five, acknowledged the continuing encouragement of BC Law Dean Emeritus Robert F. Drinan, SJ, for the four-year project. Drinan praised the book for capturing “the voice of the best in America as heard, lived, and cherished in an amazing and beautiful village.”
WORLD WITHOUT CIVILIZATION
Mass Murder and the Holocaust, History, and Analysis (Lanham, MD., University Press of America, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield, 2005)
By Robert M. Spector ’59
Now a professor of history and law at Worcester State College, retired litigation attorney Robert Spector spent six years conducting interviews in Europe and visiting the sites of Nazi concentration and death camps. The resulting two-volume work is a history and analysis of the Holocaust that sets the mass murder of European Jews in the context of other genocides, beginning with that of the Armenians at the start of the twentieth century.
A COMPLEX SOLUTION
(Bloomington, Indiana, AuthorHouse, 2005)
By Kurt Gerstner ’82
Trial lawyer Kurt Gerstner describes his first novel as “a sort of murder mystery, coming-of-age story, humorous, romance fraternity novel.” A college freshman investigates the death of one of his instructors with the help of an apprentice witch, Mafioso hit men, a lesbian singer, and a group of pledge brothers.
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