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"Note Found in a Bottle"

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I was a thirty-year-old woman with a high-profile, dead-end job and no real prospects," writes Susan Cheever in Note Found in a Bottle (Simon & Schuster; $23). "I was writing copy about swimsuit fashions. . . . I cared about nothing. I was involved with two married men. I had nothing better to do than hang around my parents' house on weekends." This is a rare moment of awareness in Cheever's memoir about alcoholism, which soured her life for more than 30 years. Sad, sexually charged yet disappointingly vague, the story begins with adolescent drinking in backstabbing Cheever Country and follows her to a boring internship at "two-Time" magazine, through uninspiring tours of Europe and those suffocating parties in her 90-room mansion. Chronic infidelity suffuses all, she says -- would that she remembered it better the morning after.


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