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Distilled Spirits: Getting High, then Sober, with a Famous Writer, a Forgotten Philosopher and Hopeless Drunk 

When: Wed., Oct. 24, 7 p.m. 2012
Price: free

Sobriety memoirs are a dime a dozen these days, but Don Lattin's is different -- really. Lattin is a reporter -- a religion reporter, to be exact, and a former member of the adjunct faculty at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism -- and it's that ethos that defines the book more than anything else. Distilled Spirits interweaves Lattin's own story, told over thirty-plus years of "worshiping at the altar of drugs and alcohol," with those of three other men: novelist Aldous Huxley, mystic Gerald Heard, and Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson -- each of who were, like Lattin, both religion junkies and, well, junkie junkies. The result is less like yet another navel-gazing addiction diary and more like any other nonfiction book, albeit one vividly written, about an exceptionally interesting subject, and imbued with the kind of gravity and understanding only someone who's been there and back can understand. Lattin reads at Books Inc. Berkeley (1760 Fourth St., Berkeley) on Wednesday, Oct. 24; go see him. 7 p.m., free.

— Ellen Cushing


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