Writing can be therapeutic and for Emilie Pine, who has had her fair share of problems, it was the only way to deal with them. Notes of Self by Emilie Pine, were meant to remain just that, but then her partner found them lying around and convinced Pine to bring them to a publisher. The result is this strangely addictive little collection of essays. It’s a brave and brutally honest book dealing with the raw reality of Pine’s father’s alcoholism, her struggles conceiving and her teenage rebellion. Sounds depressing? You bet, but there’s also something hopeful and optimistic about these stories which teach us something about human resilience.
My favourite of these essays (if such a word can be used here) is Notes on Intemperance in which Pine describes her father’s battle with alcoholism. She rushes out to Corfu, where he lives in solitary squalor, to find him dying in an under-staffed, under-equipped hospital. Pine is constantly torn between her love for a deeply flawed, self-destructive father and anger at how he keeps letting her and himself down. Love, it turns out, will top anger, but at a pretty hefty cost.
Pine moves on to her parents’ painful divorce, her years of teenage partying and underage sex to her infertility treatment. Her raw honesty reminded me of by Karl Ove Knausgaard (A Death in the Family). Perhaps what they have in common is the need to write to heal themselves?
[…] what my dad really taught me, despite himself perhaps, is that writing is a way of making sense of the world, a way of processing – of possessing – thought and emotion, a way of making something worthwhile out of pain.
Notes to Self by Emilie Pine is published by Penguin, 224 pages.