A new graphic memoir from David Heatley, author of “My Brain is Hanging Upside Down,” explores the author’s ironic relationship to 12-Step programs, an interest that grew from a self-improvement effort to a full-fledged addiction in his adult life. In “Qualification,” on sale now from Penguin Random House, Heatley deploys wit and real empathy to illustrate the ludicrous situations that arise when we obsessively pathologize our every fault.
Raised by an alcoholic father and a binge-eater mother, Heatley learned compulsive tendencies at an early age. As an adult, he started attending meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, Sex and Love Addictions Anonymous, until he was involved in a half dozen 12-Step programs — including programs for addictions he didn’t have. In his characteristic, darkly funny style, Heatley demonstrates how too much of a good thing inevitably becomes a problem in itself.
David Heatley is a writer and cartoonist whose drawings have appeared on the cover of The New Yorker, in The New York Times, McSweeney’s and elsewhere. He lives in Jackson Heights.