Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster by Kristen Johnston

Recommended book: Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster by Kristen Johnston

New York Times Best Seller


GUTS is a beautifully-written and deeply personal memoir that is simultaneously tragic, hysterical, sweet, and heartbreakingly honest. Johnston’s intimate narrative is distinctly her own as she describes her poignant and painful decent into addiction—and yet she manages to tell her story without an ounce of self-pity or blame. Her brutally incisive wit drives her story, which begins with her torment in Catholic Grade school for being “A Freak” (she was 6 feet by age twelve), and covers everything from her rise to overnight fame to her stunningly frank opinions of “celebrity.” But make no mistake, this is not simply a book about addiction, fame, or sobriety. This is a book about someone who started their life over in their late 30’s. Someone who found the courage to change their life, accept their flaws and become, as she puts it, “A brave, decent person. Someone I might actually like.”

The centerpiece of this uncensored portrait is a horrific incident that occurred five years ago while she was performing in a play in London. Late one night in December, alone in her flat, Ms. Johnston was brought to her knees when a gastric ulcer she had been unaware of decided to burst. The events of the following two months, as Ms. Johnston begins her lonely fight to survive, illustrate her masterful balance of wit and reflection that define the book as a whole. To quote her baffled british surgeon, “Frankly, We’re all a bit transfixed by your case…You see, not one of us had ever come across anything as shocking as the condition your intestines were in, at least in someone alive. Truly, it was as if a bomb had gone off.”

The real power of GUTS lies in its intention. While Johnston managed to keep her addiction hidden from the public, and even from her closest friends, she has decided to expose the most intimate and previously-guarded aspects of her life in hopes of drawing awareness to the secrecy and shame that shroud drug and alcohol addiction.

Yet as you would expect from a woman who is best known for her comedic sensibilities, the book is also laugh-out-loud funny and thoroughly entertaining. With GUTS, Ms. Johnston takes us on a journey so truthful & relatable, so remarkably fresh, it promises to stay with the reader for a long, long time.


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