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Slippery Steps

Slippery Steps: Rolling & Tumbling Toward Sobriety | Don McLeese | $21.95 | Paper with gate-folds | 360pg | ISBN 9781948509350 |

Slippery Steps isn’t your typical, hell-and-back recovery memoir. I never intended to quit drinking, rarely gave it a thought. I’d spent decades as a successful and productive journalist. I was a loving husband and father. My life worked and worked well. Until it didn’t. Freedom from drinking has enriched my life in ways I’d never imagined. I’d been numbing myself to sleep, and sleepwalking my way through life. It’s never too late to wake up. This is a book about how the worst day of my life turned out to be one of the best.

Kirkus Review | Publishers Weekly Review | Chicago Tribune | WGN Radio with Rick Kogan  | Lincoln Journal-Star

Praise for Slippery Steps:

“How can an alcoholic possibly have no sense that he is an alcoholic? In Slippery Steps, a brave, precise, unflinching, and valuable memoir, Don McLeese shows how alcoholism can insinuate itself into a life that, all things considered, seems pretty good. Spoiler alert: McLeese finds AA, and his book gives the best account I’ve read of how that organization can support someone on the road to recovery.”
Ben Yagoda, author, Memoir: A History

“The honesty and lightness of touch are remarkable. It made me look at the large Canadian whisky I’d poured with huge suspicion. I have been around functioning alcoholics my whole career and it’s very hard in our trade to ditch it altogether, so this is telling stuff, pointed and very close to home.”
Jon Langford, (Mekons, Waco Brothers, et al.)

“I’ve often wondered, Where is the irreplaceable memoir on alcoholism and nothing but alcoholism? Slippery Steps may well be it. Brutal, brilliant honesty.”
David Shields, author, The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead

“An amazing, powerful story. You validate the line in the big book: ‘…our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves.’ A fascinating, enlightening read.”
Ray Wylie Hubbard, Texas troubadour and recording artist

“I’ve long admired Don McLeese as a trusted, professional music critic who rarely wrote about his own life. But now I realize he was just saving it for the book! We rarely read about the functioning alcoholic because he or she hides their true lives so well. But here it comes barreling out, a life lived in the clouds. If you think you might have a problem with alcohol you almost certainly do.”
Michael Corcoran, Austin music journalist, author, Ghost Notes: Pioneering Spirits of Texas Music

“In recovery, we are told, ‘Don’t compare, identify!’ I identify with Don McLeese so much that reading this book I felt that the only distinction between his story and my story is that I like the Mets and he is a Cubs lifer. His candid, eloquent book tells a story of alcoholism and recovery with the self-awareness, honesty, and humor that has characterized his life as a newspaper guy, music critic, college professor, and family man. His book is at the top of the pyramid of journalistic memoirs of bouncing back from the bottom of an empty bottle that include Pete Hamill’s A Drinking Life and Caroline Knapp’s Drinking: A Love Story.”
Wayne Robins, author, A Brief History of Rock, Off the Record and adjunct professor at St. John’s University in Queens, NY

“Rock journalist McLeese (Kick Out the Jams) chronicles his road to sobriety in this uninhibited saga … charts in hurtling vignettes a new identity for himself free from the pressure of his addiction. The author’s fans will bask in the storytelling.”—Publishers Weekly


Before joining the journalism faculty of the University of Iowa, Don McLeese was an award-winning music journalist. He was a popular music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times and the Austin American-Statesman, senior editor at No Depression, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone magazine. His work has also appeared in publications including the New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Oxford American, and Entertainment Weekly. He has written three previous books, including Dwight Yoakam, A Thousand Miles from Nowhere.