This is a fantastic post from Helen Rittelmeyer.
I mention all this because something roughly analogous now seems to be true of American culture. Addiction recovery programs in general, and AA in particular, have become subjects of enormous interest even to people who have never walked the twelve steps. (In case it matters: I haven’t.) The religious novel is in eclipse, but the recovery memoir has never been more popular. Recovering addicts show up in high-brow shows like Enlightened, middle-brow shows like The West Wing, and low-brow shows like Prison Break, almost always portrayed sympathetically. When the writers of HBO’s Girls needed, for the purposes of their season 1 plot arc, to get across in a single revelation that the character Adam was not a thick-skulled hound dog but a decent guy with a complex inner life, all they had to do was reveal that he was in AA. Buzz Bissinger, in that weird article he wrote forGQ last week where he admits to spending $587,412.97 on clothes in the last two years, didn’t say “I use designer clothes to fill the emotional hole left by the collapse of my family” or “The sins I struggle with most are greed & vanity.” He said that he has a shopping addiction and that he’s going to meetings.