Fix Contributor Amber Tozer's 'Sober Stick Figure' Draws Rave Reviews

By Dorri Olds 06/03/16

Tozer will be reading selections from her new memoir on Friday,  June 3, at Cinefamily Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles.

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Fix Contributor Amber Tozer's 'Sober Stick Figure' Draws Rave Reviews

Last Comic Standing’s Amber Tozer is a treasured writer here at The Fix—but we aren’t the only ones singing her praises.

Tozer’s new illustrated memoir Sober Stick Figure came out Tuesday and it's already getting rave reviews. Paste magazine said it "might be the funniest book about alcoholism" and Bustle gave it the number one slot on its list of 21 Best Nonfiction Books Of Summer 2016. Over at the Chicago Tribune, Rex Huppke said Sober Stick Figure offers more than just a story of addiction. "Everyone comes away with something: a desire to confront issues you've been ignoring; a willingness to embrace your quirks; and above all, a sense of what authenticity really means," Huppke wrote.

Tozer’s take on her years of alcoholism is surprisingly riotous. Her true tales begin with the telling of a first drag of a cigarette and swig of beer at age seven. She knew the word "alcoholic" was bad because when anyone used it to refer to her father and grandfather, “their tone slipped into sadness,” she wrote. But even though it was clear that some folks thought “alcohol is very bad,” she was surrounded by chug-a-luggers at her parents' bar-restaurant, the Do Drop Inn, in the small town of Pueblo, Colorado.

“There’s not much to do in Pueblo,” writes Tozer, “except breed and drink, so that’s what everyone does.” Despite her dad’s alcoholism, she didn’t actually witness much of his boozing because he stayed sealed away in his room at home, with the door shut tight. When her parents divorced, it was a relief.

Aside from natural hilarity, there are tug-at-you descriptions of the haunted soul that every alcoholic knows intimately well. When describing her school days, Tozer said, “Something was missing; it was like a lonely feeling, a pit in my stomach. I thought being a good kid would make me happy, but since it didn’t, the dark side seemed very tempting.”

 

Naturally, as a stand-up comedian, Tozer says everything with humor, much like Augusten Burroughs did in his classic alcoholism memoirs, Dry and Running with Scissors. Tozer’s storytelling and childlike drawings make for a wildly entertaining ride, without tearing you apart as in books like Caroline Knapp’s Drinking: A Love Story or heroin addict William S. Burroughs’ Junky.

If you’re going to be in Los Angeles today—Friday, June 3—you can go listen to Tozer read from her book at Cinefamily Silent Movie Theatre. The audience will be treated to projected images of the author’s drunken stick figures now famous on Twitter.

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.