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10 thoughts on “The Lost Weekend

  1. Diane Diane says:

    This is a gripping novel about an alcoholic trying to survive a long weekend in Manhattan The story follows a struggling writer Don Birnam who can't get anything written because he's so focused on finding his next drink It's one of the best novels about alcoholism I've readI became interested in the book after reading Leslie Jamison's description of it in her nonfiction work The Recovering I would highly recommend both books for those interested in addictionMeaningful PassageThe telephone finally stopped ringing and then didn't ring any He looked at the clock It was half past nine The room was filled with light a kind of glare reflected from the bright sun on the back of the apartment building across the garden He turned his head on the pillow and looked around to see where the bottle was and found it Oh there it was all right On the table A great big uart Large as life and twice as emptyWas he ever going to learn? Ever be wise and smart and sober enough one night or one day to see that he had something put by for tomorrow? Did he always have to drink it all up? Was he going to keep on forever and ever being trapped for a fool by no one but himself?He got up to see if was really empty but really empty he meant of the last little slip It was Trust him Trust the drunken hog of the night before And the stupid fool Never put off till tomorrow what you can drink today that's me This was hangover But the real thing

  2. Darran Mclaughlin Darran Mclaughlin says:

    Fantastic novel The most acute portrayal of alcoholism I have ever read Joins my alcoholic canon alongside John Barleycorn by Jack London Good Morning Midnight by Jean Rhys and Factotum by Charles Bukowski This book feels like a descendent of Notes from the Underground by Dostoyevsky and Hunger by Knut Hamsun in its intense portrayal of a pathological personality you can partially identify with or maybe that's just me I don't know why it isn't celebrated

  3. classic reverie classic reverie says:

    Last year while reading Ernest Hemingway's Islands in the Stream I decided to look to see if the movie Lost Weekend was based on a book because of the alcohol use of Hemingway in his story Yes it was based on Charles Jackson's The Lost Weekend 1944 There are so many kinds of drinkers and though a person drinks does not deem him an alcoholic Having just read William Inge's Come Back Little Sheba 1949 which is about an alcoholic and his wife; I decided to read this novel I had see the movie several times and Ray Milland did a fantastic job as Don Birnam I will compare the bookmovie later under a spoiler sectionAlcoholics are usually portrayed as aggressive and abusive but like anything drinkers vary just as people do except the alcoholic can not just drink and stop the only hope is to abstain I know from experience that alcoholics can be kind people My step father was one and the harm he did was all to himself except my mom who stopped working after they married had to start working again My mom married him when I was 10 and at that time he was successful but with his inability to stop drinking he lost that position and became a janitor before his death He died before reaching 50 He was never abusive and when my dad was not there for me this troubled man was a father to me than my dad ever was my dad had different troubles It was hard seeing my step dad drink himself to death He was a veteran from the Korean War and made this lonely little girl feel love of a parent that my father was unable to give to me So when I hear or read about alcoholics my step dad's comes to mind and a sadness for all these troubled souls so reading this I felt for DonBefore going onto the review several excerpts from the foreword of this editionThe Lost Weekend—a novel about five disastrous days in the life of Don Birnam—was written in the early 1940s a time when alcoholism was widely regarded as a moral failing rather than a disease The publisher Stanley Rinehart realized the book would need all the clinical validation it could get and sent advance copies to medical schools around the country Dr Morris Fishbein editor of The Journal of the American Medical Association claimed that the novel captured “the very soul of the dipsomaniac” “I found myself at the endfull of sympathy and a desire to help” while another specialist Dr Herbert L Nossen called it “expert and wonderful—the work of a courageous man”Author of Asylum William B Seabrook commentsThere go I but for the grace of God” and all that stuff in that horrible hopeless cumulative nightmare this guy’s devil guided pen or portable has envoked sic I’ve suffered as a drunk but not like that and hope to Christ I never will It’s the only book that ever scared me It should be soberly read by every white collar souse in America If it doesn’t scare the liver lights and daylights out of him as it did me it means the poor bastard has softening of the brain and is already sunk As it happened Seabrook was then in the midst of a final alcoholic relapse; twenty months later he’d kill himself with an overdose of sleeping pills though friends claimed it wasn’t a matter of deliberate suicide so much as “another drastic attempt to accomplish what he had tried vainly all his life to do—to get away from himself” Jackson would have understood only too wellThe movie released less than two years after the novel almost swept the Oscars—winning Best Picture Director and Screenplay as well as Best Actor for Ray Milland a Welshman hitherto known as a competent light comedian for supporting roles A near teetotaler Milland had been coached in the ways of drunkenness by the novel’s author—a balding impeccably groomed middle aged man whose weird combination of wistfulness and zest put the actor in mind of “a bright erratic problem child”In the movie homosexuality was not brought up as you read his story the struggles of Don with this is apparent and uite unclear how he really see his sexualityEveryone it seemed had read his book and experienced an almost Seabrook like shock of recognition regarding Jackson as one journalist put it “in the manner of a returned war heroof a man who had been through hellfire and emerged bloodshot but unbowed” By then Jackson had been sober for almost a decade and was appalled by how readily people identified him with his narcissistic crypto homosexual writer manué protagonist “One third of the history is based on what I have experienced myself” he told Louella Parsons and others “about one third on the experiences of a very good friend whose drinking career I followed very closely and the other third is pure invention”Jackson himself was doing just fine a devoted family man the married father of two daughters and chairman of the Alcoholics Anonymous chapter in New Brunswick New Jersey—a man who now freely admitted that he was indeed Don Birnam and hence his many hospitalizations for drug and alcohol related collapses in the twenty years since his famous first novel had been published To be sure he could afford to be candid by then; very few people had any idea who Jackson was and even those happy few tended to muddle the matter “I have become so used to having people say ‘We loved your movie’ instead of ‘We read your book’” said Jackson “that now I merely say ‘Thanks’For his part Jackson never stopped fighting against his later obscurity and finally was even willing to sacrifice his hard won sobriety in order to resume writing which he’d found all but impossible without the stimulus of drugs or alcohol A recurrence of tuberculosis resulted in the removal of his right lung in 1963 and while recuperating at Will Rogers Hospital in Saranac Lake Jackson was given medication that not only reduced his pain but restored his creative impulse By 1967 he was back on the Times best seller list with a novel about a nymphomaniac A Second Hand Life and was eager to resume work on his long awaited “Birnam saga” the first volume of which was to be titled Farther and Wilder According to his editor at Macmillan Robert Markel Jackson had finished at least three hundred pages of this magnum opus when in 1968 he took a fatal overdose of Seconal at the Hotel Chelsea where he’d been living with a Czechoslovakian factory worker named Stanley ZednikIt was interesting in the story hearing the psychiatrist and the doctors treating him in the hospital“Since the publication of Charles Jackson’s somber novel about an alcoholic” Life magazine had reported in 1946 “an unprecedented amount of attention has been paid to the drinking of alcohol and the problems arising therefrom” Jackson’s insights were widely cited by such organizations as AA the National Council on Alcoholism and the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies where Jackson’s devoted wife Rhoda worked for almost fifteen years until at last the American Medical Association was roused to recognize alcoholism officially as a treatable diseaseThe story Don narrates his experience after his brother leaves for the country The plan was that a trip to the country would help Don and his brother Wick could keep an eye on him but Don makes excuses The lives of his brother and his girlfriend Helen are concentrated on helping him which makes their lives complicated Don when alone must find money to drink and his weekend keeps spiraling downwards Loss of memory physical and mental deterioration are power for the course and Don reminisces about his past Can he survive the weekend and will the darn phone stop ringing?I found this an extremely interesting read from the mind of an alcoholic and Jackson struggles this is a kind of autobiography but how much is his reality or storyline This is reality and there is a difference in the book and movie but not enough to the message givenWonderfully written story of self destruction and the inability to stopSpoilersThe movie ending was positive one after his struggles and the writing of a book The book is the start again of the roller coaster I think his novel was perfect in this bleak ending because it shows reality but the movie gives hope where hope is needed for the general public There are many success stories but it is not an easy path as the book shows usGloria is portrayed different because though she likes Don and sees him as a gentleman she is not trying to win him as in the movieDon steals a purse in both but he does not steal for liueur as in the movie

  4. Cristina Cristina says:

    This novel has been on my TBR list for a long time and I'm glad I've finally managed to read itThe book chronicles five days and nights in the life of Don Birnam an alcoholic writer whom we follow on his 'lost weekend' of binge drinking and frantic search for booze and money Things uickly spiral out of control for Don and the number of chaotic incidents and dramatic events grows page after page in a relentlessly dramatic crescendo What I've found very compelling in the novel was Don's narrative voice who alternates long digressions on his past literary reflections and complex mental machinations to get one bottle in his hands Everything he says is delivered with a hefty dose of self loathing and matter of factness that made me irritated uneasy and sadDon is far from being a lovable character He's not looking for redemption and seems to have no intention to stop drinking His periods of sobriety are only short brackets between other lost days and wild benders There is something raw and honest in his personality though that ultimately made me care for himThe dissection of alcohol addiction and the main character's desperate predicament are still incredibly compelling than seventy years after the novel's releaseBilly Wilder directed a film adaptation of The Lost Weekend in 1945 Although diverting from the novel in some crucial elements eg Don's homosexuality that is completely disregarded in the movie the film is eually uncompromising and sincere

  5. Sharon Barrow Wilfong Sharon Barrow Wilfong says:

    This book was uite the eye opener I have never suffered from alcohol or drug addictions nor have I lived with anyone suffering from this sickness Sickness it certainly is How someone arrives at this state I don't know I'm sure there are a lot of different causes both environmental and genetic but based on this semi autobiographical account by Charles Jackson I think that one's mental faculties become seriously impairedThe Lost Weekend is about one man's nightmarish life His entire reason to live is to get that next drink Don Birnam is a writer we are not informed as to how successful he is Not very the reader gathers since he lives with his brother and has no money What little money he is able to beg borrow and steal is uickly liuidated pun intendedThe story takes place in 1936 on the East Side of Manhatten Don Birnam is sitting in a chair in his brother's apartment His brother is about to go away for the weekend and he pleads with his brother to come with him They argue back and forth but Don is adamant that he is not leaving his chair His brother finally gives up and leavesThus begins a drinking binge that starts on Friday and doesn't end until the following Tuesday when his brother returnsWe live inside Don's mind We know his every thought We see him lie at the bar so people will buy him drinks he lies to the woman at the laundromat who doesn't want to give him money because she knows what he'll do with it but it's just a loan you seeyeah righthere take it and go awayWe listen to his thoughts as he becomes inebriated and delusional It's so painful to watch He takes a taxi to an upscale bar where he drinks himself into believing that he can steal the purse from the woman next to him and get away with it because he has super powers He's smarter than everyone else in the whole world Then the humiliating exposure as the woman and her boyfriend demand the purse back and the bouncer throws him outBut where can he get the next drink? Where's his money? He has it then he doesn't have it Here it is in his coat pocket Now it's not there What happened to it? He doesn't know what's going onHe decides he must sell his typewriter He carries it blocks and blocks to a pawn shop but the shop is closed Why is it closed? He has to carry his typewriter back It's miserably heavyWhat day is it? Is it still Friday? No it's SaturdayThen he's in the hospital How did he end up there? That's right he fell down the stairs as he was returning to the apartmentThe doctor and nurse treat him and the other patients it's a ward for drug addicts and alcoholics like specimens His head is badly fractured and they want him to stay until he is properly treated but he refuses They give him a pain killer which is great Where can he get of this stuff? He wheedles the nurse but the nurse won't budgeHe leaves and somehow makes it back home The phone rings incessantly probably his brother checking on him but he won't answer He doesn't want to speak to anyone or see anyoneHe finds he has to see someone because the woman who has been trying to contact him all weekend finally shows up at his apartment The janitor has let her inShe takes him to her house and tries to get him to shower and rest The next morning when she goes to work he rifles through her stuff to see if she has any liuor He finally leaves with her fur coat and goes to hock itHe was somebody once Sometimes his thoughts drift to his past He went to university taught in university but somehow he ended up homeless jobless and obsessing over how to connive another drinkCharles Jackson wrote this story in 1946 He had a rich source of material to draw on his own life He fought his demons for years but finally in 1967 in his room in the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan he died of alcohol and drug poisoningThis is a horrible excruciating and beautifully written book and I highly recommend it

  6. Tom Carson Tom Carson says:

    Perhaps instead of being titled The Lost Weekend this book should have been titled The Lost Cause If you're looking for a tale of someone falling into the depths of alcoholism and them coming out a changed and better person look elsewhere because here you will only find a tale of someone falling into the depths of alcoholism Here there is no fulfilled redemptionSo why read the book?Don Birnam the protagonist though he displays a great deal of intelligence and self awareness very seldom surprises He steals neglects people wastes money without remorse and the reader always sees it coming He is often despicable and self serving despite his underlying sincerity and the reader very seldom expects any change from him or finds himself sympathizing with himSo why read the book?His family and friends enable him lending him money allowing him to pawn off his possessionsSo whyThe reader may not be able to sympathize but he or she can certainly empathize Birnam may be abhorrent but he knows that he is and though the reader is seldom convinced that there is hope for him Birnam is sometimes able to convince himself that there is hope but is ultimately powerless It is this to which the reader can relate The reader is also given further insight into the nature of alcoholism without being hit over the head with elements of victimization In the end though it is Jackson's style that makes this such a great read— poetic yet still authentic and provocativeIt is certainly not an uplifting book Perhaps that is why I have decided to award it four stars instead of five

  7. Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    My favorite line from the book Spinal tap babyI read the novel first then saw the film Both are excellent but very different Novel super gay sex in the church sheds with boyhood friend Melvin; getting kicked out of his fraternity for his big crush on a senior boy; the fiance who will NEVER become his wife; lots of closets filled with booze of course; a dream in which he is saved from a homophobic lynching by his brother Film super hetero Don kisses two girls what? and even the swishy male nurse is butch Bim is less lovable and less dangerous here; outstanding female supporting roles even though there is little basis in the book for them A great contrast

  8. David R. Dowdy David R. Dowdy says:

    Don’t read this review if you don’t already know the premise behind The Lost Weekend book or movie“It’s all right for you to ruin your life; that’s up to you” he said; But you have no right to ruin someone else’s”That’s Don Birnham’s brother Wick chastising Don one time after the later has drunk his way through another weekend bender Don let down Wick again by not visiting the farm with him over a long weekend in October Don optioned to stay in the city and drink himself to oblivionOur MC Don is an alcoholic Every weekend it seems Don is living on and for alcohol He can’t shake it and he doesn’t want to He loves it because he needs it He’s sick and everything revolves around it This is serious fiction that helps explain what makes an alcoholic do what he does It’s stark realityDuring much of the book Don explains the psyche of an alcoholic His own reason for the sickness and torture is his father’s abandoning the family when Don was a boy Don is soothed by alcohol He yearns for it because it helps him forget his painful childhood and cover up a trait he’d rather keep secretHe becomes much interesting and inspired on booze To a point After that he becomes drunk and eventually knocked out I was amazed at how much alcohol he’d drink Tall glasses of whiskey A uart in an evening It’s killing him his health and creativity he dreams of writing fiction It’s making him neurotic and withdrawn He lives for time alone to get knock down drunk He has to do it and he doesn’t want anyone to see itBilly Wilder made an excellent movie in 1945 that stared Ray Milland and is based almost entirely on the book It’s just as scary and troubling There are some aspects of the book kept from movie goers as they weren’t deemed ready to watch in that era

  9. Perry Perry says:

    Redneck Haiku ReviewJames BeamInebriatedI midnight god go flaccidPerformance issues

  10. Andrew Walter Andrew Walter says:

    I couldn't stop reading this I was even drunk for a few of the readings Then I looked up Charles Jackson's life and thought a lot of this might have been semi autobiographical That sort of bummed me outI have a feeling you'll know if this type of book is for you; it's the type informed by Hamsun's Hunger; and could be lazily categorised with Celine or Bukowsi The Drinker by Fallada or maybe Junky by Burroughs Like a lot of these books what plot there is can be summed up in a sentence Don Birnam an alcoholic has dodged his brother's pleas to come away for a long weekend in the country instead choosing to relapse into solitary drinking It's got a real subtlety to it maybe because the protagonist is kept at arms reach from us; although we're shown his delusions and hallucinations we're also the only ones who know why the woman at the bar thinks he's married for some reason or why he's got that horrible bruising on his head The flipside of this is that we're often given a hazy picture of his past; whatever the exact details of his disgrace at college the memory is too painful for Birnam to really relive and so we're never told the full story Unlike a couple of the books mentioned above there's not much in the way of wise ass platitudes so Don Birnam isn't going to become an idol to college hipsters or party try hards any time soon in the way that Bukowski can do There is a scene where Birnam staggers out to try and pawn his typewriter for booze money in the throes of a splitting hangover that really stood out for me he's pathetic in the midst of a teeming uncaring but most importantly living city He's not a lone wolf drinking to kick against the pricks all he's kicking is himself If as I assume this book was based on Jackson's own problems with drink it must have been a painfully honest baring of the soul It might even be said it's only superficially about alcohol because everything 'wrong' with Don isn't going to disappear if he goes teetotal not the way he sees himself I'd say it's about being a man in the sense that being a man is about responsibility for your actions and emotionsOk so it's too long and over grandiose a review already but to summarise; it's a heartbreaking and emotionally intense book that I'd recommend to anyone that is or knows someone who is dependent on something It probably goes without saying that if you're looking for action or lightning fast plotting it's not the book for you

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The Lost Weekend [Reading] ➸ The Lost Weekend By Charles Jackson – Don Birnam is a sensitive charming and well read man Yet when left alone for a few days by his brother he struggles with his overwhelming desire for alcohol succumbs to it and in the resulting prolong Don Birnam is a sensitive charming and well read man Yet when left alone for a few days by his brother he struggles with his overwhelming desire for alcohol succumbs to it and in the resulting prolonged agony goes over much of his The Lost Kindle - life up to and including The Lost Weekend.

  • Paperback
  • 244 pages
  • The Lost Weekend
  • Charles Jackson
  • English
  • 09 August 2014
  • 9780815604198