Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel) sums up this reluctant memoir: I am alive, but its been hard. Weathered and tired, Manning narrates his life through a cast of seminal players who have defined it, for better or worse, including an abusive mother. His dispassionate voice evokes trust. When attempting to articulate his relentless battle with alcoholism, he writes that the telling of it feels a weak attempt, but recounts these struggles lucidly to lay bare the thick darkness that was always behind any light in my life. The greatest regret in his life has been that he did not know how to be married. (He and his wife Roslyn were divorced after 16 years.) At points the narration feels tired and obligatory, as if he simply doesnt want to talk anymore. Conversely, that is the books appeal. Theres no cutting corners, no spinmeistering. If the book could be defined as a psalm, it would read, How pleasant it is when fellow travelers of faith can read anothers story and hear the ring of truth and, conquering that, still believe. (Oct.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.