In his comeback “mea culpa” interview with Vanity Fair, the fashion designer John Galliano, who was sacked by Dior after being arrested in Paris for an antisemitic rant in a bar, has revealed he was banned from reading Keith Richards’s autobiography while in rehab for drink and drug addiction.
Galliano’s counsellors had a point: while admiring his powers of concentration most addicts in detox can barely string a sentence together, let alone read one there would have been justifiable concerns that the Rolling Stones guitarist’s unapologetic drugalogue was not exactly “on message”.
Though they could have let Galliano look at the pictures: 21st-century Keef is enough to put anyone off drugs. So what books should Galliano have been allowed to read?
A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey
A good read on two counts. It’s both a heart-warming tale of recovery and, as it topped both the fiction and the non-fiction charts at the same time, a salutary reminder that you can never rely on an addict to tell the whole truth.
Death in the Afternoon, by Ernest Hemingway
The American writer was master of the short sentence a must for those with a comparatively short attention span. The back cover blurb might also be a good place to start as a warning of the endgame of addiction: Hemingway was an alcoholic who eventually shot himself.
The Diary of Anne Frank
Now that Galliano has sobered up a little, it might be useful for him to acquaint himself with what kind of a guy Hitler actually was. This is as good a place as any for him to start.
L’Assommoir, by Emile Zola
This 19th-century morality tale of Gervaise Macquart’s descent into alcoholism and death should resonate with Galliano, who has lived in France for many years. He might find the print of the English translation by Oxford Classics a little small, but I’m sure he can find a large-print version in French.
A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
If Galliano had ever been tempted to ease up on his treatment while in detox, this dystopian allegory of extreme aversion therapy might get him back on track. Come to think of it, Galliano could well play Alex in a remake of the Kubrick film.
Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves
Galliano needn’t read any more than the title, really.
A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf
Galliano may have spent rather longer on his own in rehab than he was used to, so this early 20th-century feminist classic about a woman’s need for her own space might have helped him regain some perspective.
The Lost Weekend, by Charles R Jackson
Another tale of the dangers of drink, in which the protagonist Don Birnam winds up in an alcohol ward. His counsellors may prefer the film’s ending, in which Birnam finds recovery, rather than the book’s in which he plots to kill someone to get the keys of the liquor cabinet.