The Empty Room by Lauren B. Davis

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...Davis skilfully juggles Colleen’s past and present. Still, there were a number of times where I...wanted to shake Colleen and tell her to just snap out of it.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

A raw and groundbreaking journey to the depths of addiction, from the author of Our Daily Bread, longlisted for the Giller Prize.

Colleen Kerrigan wakes up sick and bruised, with no clear memory of the night before. It's Monday morning, and she is late for work again. She's shocked to see the near-empty vodka bottle on her kitchen counter. It was full at noon yesterday; surely she didn't drink that much last night? As she struggles out the door, she fights the urge to have a sip, just to take the edge off. But no, she's not going to drink today.

But this is the day Colleen's demons come for her. A very bad day spirals into night as a series of flashbacks take the reader through Colleen's past—moments of friendship and loss, fragments of peace and possibility. The single constant is the bottle, always close by, Colleen's worst enemy and her only friend.

In this unforgettable work, acclaimed novelist Lauren B. Davis has created as searing, raw and powerful a portrayal of the chaos and pain of alcoholism as we have encountered in fiction. Told with compassion, insight and an irresistible gallows humor, The Empty Room takes us to the depths of addiction, only to find a revelation at its heart: the importance and grace of one person reaching out to another.

"Unflinching and unsentimental, The Empty Room charts a day from hell in the life of Colleen Kerrigan, alone, nearly 50, and spiralling into yet another alcoholic binge. It is a credit to the brilliance and humanity of novelist Lauren B. Davis that, even in this nightmare, we find utter truth, wicked humour and just enough hope to keep on reading." - Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes

"This is a raw, exciting book - alcoholism from deep inside the jaws of death and denial. To call it 'honest' is a disservice: it is scalding." - Bharati Mukherjee, author of Desirable Daughters and Miss New India

"In The Empty Room, Lauren B. Davis has given us an honest, brave account of self-destruction, one that harrowingly reminds us that recovery from the abyss of alcoholism is never easy, but eloquently hints at what is possible when the self-deception and denial end." - Linden McIntyre, author of The Bishop's Man and Why Men Lie

"Soaked in alcoholism and addiction, this story plumbs the bottomless human genius for self-deception and our singular talent for wandering into hellholes of our own design. Lauren B. Davis writes deftly, never averting her gaze - and never letting go of the fact that threads of grace lie always within our grasp."
- Alan Cumyn, author of The Famished Lover and The Sojourn

"The Empty Room is a rare act of courage — every page a brilliant, defiant examination of desire, loss, sorrow, triumph and grace. My heart will not soon forget this book.” - Ami McKay, author of The Birth House and The Virgin Cure
 

About Lauren B. Davis

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LAUREN B. DAVIS is the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed novels The Stubborn Season and The Radiant City, as well as two collections of short stories, An Unrehearsed Desire and Rat Medicine & Other Unlikely Curatives. Born in Montreal, Davis lived in France for ten years. She now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Visit her at laurenbdavis.com, follow her on Twitter @laurenbdavis or become a fan on Facebook.
 
Published May 21, 2013 by Library Window Press. 320 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Empty Room
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer Hunter on May 31 2013

The Empty Room is scary in places, touching, and often sad. It is a great psychological portrait of a woman under the influence.

Read Full Review of The Empty Room | See more reviews from Toronto Star

National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Jowita Bydlowska on May 24 2013

...Davis skilfully juggles Colleen’s past and present. Still, there were a number of times where I...wanted to shake Colleen and tell her to just snap out of it.

Read Full Review of The Empty Room | See more reviews from National Post arts

National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Jowita Bydlowska on May 24 2013

I am not a fan of flashbacks — the moments that explain the whys — but Davis skilfully juggles Colleen’s past and present. Still, there were a number of times where I...wanted to shake Colleen and tell her to just snap out of it. But there’s no way for Colleen to snap out of it until she learns her lesson.

Read Full Review of The Empty Room | See more reviews from National Post arts

Reader Rating for The Empty Room
93%

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