Thursday, January 10, 2013

Drink, Smoke, Pass Out: An Unlikely Spiritual Journey, by Judith Lucy

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

Through a haze of booze and dope Judith Lucy emerges into the light of yoga and meditation. In this brutally honest memoir, the well-loved comedian finds a measure of peace and solace after years of personal turmoil.

When Judith Lucy was working in commercial radio and regaling listeners with stories of her drunken escapades, people would write in asking if she was okay. Reading Drink, Smoke, Pass Out, it seems clear she was anything but okay and in dire need of help.

There is a lot of misery behind the gags and self-deprecating humour in this second memoir. Lucy’s twenties and thirties, as she describes them, are a blur of cigarettes, joints, booze, vomit and hangovers. It surprising she didn’t find herself rushed off to rehab as part of some well meant intervention. If strangers listening on the radio could sense a problem, then who knows how vexed her friends must have been at such a self-destructive lifestyle.

What prompted the sudden spiritual journey? When Lucy lost both her parents in a short period of time, she was knocked for six. This made her question her very being and hence began a search for answers to the big questions of life. For Lucy, this started with yoga and then progressed onto meditation. Then the idea for a book developed, which actually preceded the ABC series Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey. (The ABC actually suggested a series based on her first memoir, The Lucy Family Alphabet.)

Thankfully, after having discovered yoga and meditation, and having met spiritual practitioners in other disciplines and religions, Lucy has cut back on the drink and has found more peace in life. This hasn’t dampened, however, her martini dry sense of humour. The trademark quips fly thick and fast off every page, making Drink, Smoke, Pass Out a fun and often laugh-out-loud book.

On a more serious note, I think this book would make good reading for those experiencing personal problems or just searching for more meaning in their lives. Lucy lays herself very bare and so it’s easy to put yourself in her shoes and walk the same journey. She shows that we all have our failings and that it’s hard to pull yourself out of personal problems. Nor does Lucy provide any easy answers. It’s all long, hard work to try to find peace and emotional stability in life. For those searching, Drink, Smoke, Pass Out provides good company.  
Drink, Smoke, Pass Out, by Judith Lucy. Published by Penguin. ISBN: 9780670074914  RRP: $29.99