Some of the Words Are Theirs: A Memoir of an Alcoholic Family

Some of the Words Are Theirs: a Memoir of an Alcoholic Family by George Jensen

Foreword by William L. White. Springfield, MO: Moon City, 2009. 6 x 9, 400 pages, 18 photographs. $29.95 hardbound. ISBN 978-0-913785-09-6.

In Some of the Words Are Theirs: A Memoir of an Alcoholic Family, George H. Jensen, Jr. describes an adult’s search to learn about his father, an alcoholic who had abandoned his young family. Through years of research and personal interviews, Jensen comes to respect the man whom he had once hated. He learned that his father, a petty officer in the U.S. Navy, had survived Pearl Harbor and served in virtually every major naval campaign in the Pacific. He learned that his father had been respected by fellow sailors, that his mother and father had once been in love, that his family had its moments of happiness, despite the father’s disease of alcoholism.

“Before my research,” Jensen says, “I had thought my family’s story was simple, fixed in a moment of crisis—the evening my mother asked him to leave. I remembered how my mother raised two boys on a schoolteacher’s salary, and how deeply wounded my older brother and I were by our father’s drinking. I learned that he had become a drifter and settled in New Orleans, where he finally drank himself to death.” But, in the process of writing, Jensen learned so much more, as he came to explore the effects of alcoholism on his entire family and how his family was able to move past its moment of crisis.
In his Foreword to Jensen’s memoir, renowned addiction expert William L. White writes that “those whose lives have been touched by alcoholism will . . . find clues on how to give up life-shaping family myths. They will discover how one man forged his own healing narrative. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous will be particularly moved by this book . . . There is a sense of liberation at the end that most readers will find very comforting and personally empowering.”

Currently Professor and Head of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, Jensen taught for years at Missouri State. “Dr. Jensen is still remembered fondly by faculty and former students,” says James S. Baumlin, Missouri State Professor of English and editor of Moon City Press. Adds Baumlin, “Jensen’s memoir is a fine example of creative nonfiction and it deserves a wide audience. In it, veterans and students of World War II will find a treasure trove of naval photographs. Persons who have lived with alcoholics will take hope from this book, which offers real lessons in recovery. It’s funny in places, moving in others; it is, in sum, an uplifting book.”