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The Night of the Gun

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Do we remember only the stories we can live with?The ones that make us look good in the rearview mirror? In "The Night of the Gun," David Carr redefines memoir with the revelatory story of his years as an addict and chronicles his journey from crack-house regular to regular columnist for "The New York Times." Built on sixty videotaped interviews, legal and medical records, Do we remember only the stories we can live with?The ones that make us look good in the rearview mirror? In "The Night of the Gun," David Carr redefines memoir with the revelatory story of his years as an addict and chronicles his journey from crack-house regular to regular columnist for "The New York Times." Built on sixty videotaped interviews, legal and medical records, and three years of reporting, "The Night of the Gun" is a ferocious tale that uses the tools of journalism to fact-check the past. Carr's investigation of his own history reveals that his odyssey through addiction, recovery, cancer, and life as a single parent was far more harrowing -- and, in the end, more miraculous -- than he allowed himself to remember. Over the course of the book, he digs his way through a past that continues to evolve as he reports it. That long-ago night he was so out of his mind that his best friend had to pull a gun on him to make him go away? A visit to the friend twenty years later reveals that Carr was pointing the gun. His lucrative side business as a cocaine dealer? Not all that lucrative, as it turned out, and filled with peril. His belief that after his twins were born, he quickly sobered up to become a parent? Nice story, if he could prove it. The notion that he was an easy choice as a custodial parent once he finally was sober? His lawyer pulls out the old file and gently explains it was a little more complicated than that. In one sense, the story of "The Night of the Gun" is a common one -- a white-boy misdemeanant lands in a ditch and is restored to sanity through the love of his family, a God of his understanding, and a support group that will go unnamed. But when the whole truth is told, it does not end there. After fourteen years -- or was it thirteen? -- Carr tried an experiment in social drinking. Double jeopardy turned out to be a game he did not play well. As a reporter and columnist at the nation's best newspaper, he prospered, but gained no more adeptness at mood-altering substances. He set out to become a nice suburban alcoholic and succeeded all too well, including two more arrests, one that included a night in jail wearing a tuxedo. Ferocious and eloquent, courageous and bitingly funny, "The Night of the Gun" unravels the ways memory helps us not only create our lives, but survive them.

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Do we remember only the stories we can live with?The ones that make us look good in the rearview mirror? In "The Night of the Gun," David Carr redefines memoir with the revelatory story of his years as an addict and chronicles his journey from crack-house regular to regular columnist for "The New York Times." Built on sixty videotaped interviews, legal and medical records, Do we remember only the stories we can live with?The ones that make us look good in the rearview mirror? In "The Night of the Gun," David Carr redefines memoir with the revelatory story of his years as an addict and chronicles his journey from crack-house regular to regular columnist for "The New York Times." Built on sixty videotaped interviews, legal and medical records, and three years of reporting, "The Night of the Gun" is a ferocious tale that uses the tools of journalism to fact-check the past. Carr's investigation of his own history reveals that his odyssey through addiction, recovery, cancer, and life as a single parent was far more harrowing -- and, in the end, more miraculous -- than he allowed himself to remember. Over the course of the book, he digs his way through a past that continues to evolve as he reports it. That long-ago night he was so out of his mind that his best friend had to pull a gun on him to make him go away? A visit to the friend twenty years later reveals that Carr was pointing the gun. His lucrative side business as a cocaine dealer? Not all that lucrative, as it turned out, and filled with peril. His belief that after his twins were born, he quickly sobered up to become a parent? Nice story, if he could prove it. The notion that he was an easy choice as a custodial parent once he finally was sober? His lawyer pulls out the old file and gently explains it was a little more complicated than that. In one sense, the story of "The Night of the Gun" is a common one -- a white-boy misdemeanant lands in a ditch and is restored to sanity through the love of his family, a God of his understanding, and a support group that will go unnamed. But when the whole truth is told, it does not end there. After fourteen years -- or was it thirteen? -- Carr tried an experiment in social drinking. Double jeopardy turned out to be a game he did not play well. As a reporter and columnist at the nation's best newspaper, he prospered, but gained no more adeptness at mood-altering substances. He set out to become a nice suburban alcoholic and succeeded all too well, including two more arrests, one that included a night in jail wearing a tuxedo. Ferocious and eloquent, courageous and bitingly funny, "The Night of the Gun" unravels the ways memory helps us not only create our lives, but survive them.

30 review for The Night of the Gun

  1. 4 out of 5

    Raven

    The concept of this book is great: as a former drug addict, David Carr has trouble recalling a great portion of his own life. Now an established reporter, Carr uses his reporting tools and techniques to uncover his own past. I believe everyone has a story, and I have no-doubt that Carr's is an interesting one. The research is promising, but the delivery needs serious work. I cannot get through this book. I have tried & tried. I cannot seem to read more than four pages at a time. I am intelli The concept of this book is great: as a former drug addict, David Carr has trouble recalling a great portion of his own life. Now an established reporter, Carr uses his reporting tools and techniques to uncover his own past. I believe everyone has a story, and I have no-doubt that Carr's is an interesting one. The research is promising, but the delivery needs serious work. I cannot get through this book. I have tried & tried. I cannot seem to read more than four pages at a time. I am intelligent. I received excellent grades in college, and am the adminstrator for a specialty department where I work. However, a lot of the words Carr uses, I just do not get--in either meaning or context. Carr also uses an overabundance of these "big" words in the same paragraphs, or even sentences. It is as if the author highlighted words, entered them in an online thesaurus, and picked the most intelligent-sounding replacement. Carr also seems to have trouble forming his own thoughts; while I like quotes and references to philosophers, etc, Carr often quotes or refers to other authors and philosophers several times alone within the first two chapters--and again, often in the same paragraph. Reviewing "The Night of the Gun" may seem unfair without completing the book; but I simply cannot finish. When an avid reader begins falling asleep after every few pages, and has not reached the end after two months, that seems to be a review in itself. It is time to move on.

  2. 4 out of 5

    christa

    There are so few ways to deviate from the addiction memoir outline, short of posthumous publication. The plot lines are easy, like a murder mystery or a romance novel. Your hero is a drunk/junkie/bulimic/sex addict. Your hero faces a lifestyle change in which the options are extreme: change vs. death. Your hero dusts himself off [typically more than once], washes his hair, excavates the past for meaning and and writes something intelligible about how at one point he poked drugs into his eyeball There are so few ways to deviate from the addiction memoir outline, short of posthumous publication. The plot lines are easy, like a murder mystery or a romance novel. Your hero is a drunk/junkie/bulimic/sex addict. Your hero faces a lifestyle change in which the options are extreme: change vs. death. Your hero dusts himself off [typically more than once], washes his hair, excavates the past for meaning and and writes something intelligible about how at one point he poked drugs into his eyeball and seemingly assaulted a cab driver — according to police reports. Now he writes for the NY Times. That said, addiction memoirs are my favorite genre. David Carr still managed to stun me with The Night of the Gun. 1. As much as this book is about being a bad man who gets all hopped up and punches women in the face, this book is about my truth versus your truth and whether it coalesces with the documented proof. Two people sharing an experience and walking away with such different stories, whether it is: Who actually owned the gun? Did David Bowie sing directly to us? What did witnesses see on 9/11? Carr, the consummate journalist, provides documentation when possible. Arrest reports and published stories from his archives. Medical records. Direct quotes taken from videotaped interviews with friends and family. It is like he is saying: Look, my lows were low. Lower than you can exaggerate, low. And I’m not just some frat boy bragging about chugging Southern Comfort from a beer bong. Here is the official report. This has to be the most honest addiction memoir I’ve ever read. And when what actually happened is debated, he defers to the less-broken brain. 2. You can read Anne Lamott and get the sense that she is never going to drink again. She has found a mix of spirituality and hiking, knows her triggers and has a way to sort of “time out” if she has to. After Marya Hornbacker wrote Wasted, it was hard to imagine her swirling her spoon around a mound of frozen yogurt again, lazily lapping at it for the next hour, getting full, and again dropping below 60 pounds. Maybe it’s because Carr is so committed to the best truth he can find, or because his teeter from 14 years of sobriety was so seamless — a simple hand-to-mouth muscle memory, almost — that this doesn’t memoir doesn’t necessarily feel like him riding off into the sunset. This feels like the wind could change any minute and he could be marinating his organs in gin. An addict is an addict, he gets this: “I could be drunk tomorrow or shooting dope even as you read this, but the chances of that are low as long as I make a daily decision to embrace who I really am and then be satisfied with that at the end of every day,” he writes. 3. Carr seems to realize that addiction comes before everything. His loyalty to Jayson Blair’s fight is surprising, especially considering that Carr is so attracted to hard work and honesty. But when the NY Times reporter is outed for falsifying stories, Carr chases him down and begs him to not fall off the wagon in this moment. Maybe Carr is considering the reputation he built as a journalist, later doused in kerosene, and through the virtue of hard work and forgiveness, was able to resuscitate.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    This is perhaps the best memoir I have ever read. The approach Carr takes to this overbaked genre is unique and genre-busting. He reports on his own life--interviewing, researching, synthesizing--and ends up with an endlessly engaging, brutally honest tome about a remarkable life. His voice is gritty, kind of wiseguy-ish, full of easy slang, reminded me of Jim Knipfel (which I consider to be a huge compliment, by the way). I couldn't read this book fast enough, stayed up late in the evening to r This is perhaps the best memoir I have ever read. The approach Carr takes to this overbaked genre is unique and genre-busting. He reports on his own life--interviewing, researching, synthesizing--and ends up with an endlessly engaging, brutally honest tome about a remarkable life. His voice is gritty, kind of wiseguy-ish, full of easy slang, reminded me of Jim Knipfel (which I consider to be a huge compliment, by the way). I couldn't read this book fast enough, stayed up late in the evening to read it by flashlight in bed next to my husband. I also live in the city where much of the book takes place, and it was quite interesting for me to get a taste of a side of Minneapolis I didn't even know existed (not to mention the fact that Carr was arrested not three blocks from house, in Hopkins). I've read some reviews that have whined about wanting more about why Carr drank, why he drugged, that whole tearing-the-skin-off-your-heart bullshit that is forced down our throats on a regular basis whenever we pick up an addiction memoir. I've steered clear of addiction memoirs for this very reason. I'm less interested in the why's (the why's for such things end up being remarkably similar) and more interested in Carr's take on the way memory functions, the way we, as Joan Didion once wrote, "tell ourselves stories in order to live," especially stories about ourselves. It is this aspect of NIGHT OF THE GUN that is so important--it holds every memoir writer to a higher standard of "accuracy" in the genre. If we expect others to read the stories of our lives, we must ruthlessly and as objectively as possible examine our life and consider, on a daily basis as we write, that our version might not be the correct version after all. I teach memoir writing. This will be assigned reading in my classes from now on.

  4. 5 out of 5

    rachel

    UPDATE: Rest in peace, David Carr. Sending hopeful thoughts to your daughters. If I have learned anything from my life over the past couple of months -- obsessively watching prison documentaries, reading The Night of the Gun, volunteering -- it is that there is great courage and great utility in being honest about your past. Raising awareness of what you have done not only helps the world understand, it helps you complete your own recovery. So here is an admission: I have been in rehab too. Not f UPDATE: Rest in peace, David Carr. Sending hopeful thoughts to your daughters. If I have learned anything from my life over the past couple of months -- obsessively watching prison documentaries, reading The Night of the Gun, volunteering -- it is that there is great courage and great utility in being honest about your past. Raising awareness of what you have done not only helps the world understand, it helps you complete your own recovery. So here is an admission: I have been in rehab too. Not for addiction like David Carr, but for related mood disorders that I have struggled with for at least 12 years. At this point, it has officially been half of my life. My coping skills right now are top notch, but I have done some very stupid things because of this faulty wiring in my brain. So I completely understand David Carr's impulse, upon leaving rehab and beginning his sober life after a sordid few years of crack/cocaine abuse and abuse of women, to detail his addicted past in his resumes and cover letters and to eventually write a book. Completing recovery means you have truly gone through some shit in your life. It also means that because you have seen the worst you're capable of, you will always be cautious of slipping back into that, even when your mind and body seem healthier than ever. Carr describes this well in his brief relapse with alcohol towards the end of the book. One thing that impressed me about the book was that Carr's twin daughters were his impetus to change. Even though he didn't go get help immediately after their birth and the babies spent some time in crack dens, he wised up soon and committed to change in order to be a good father to them. I can tell you from my time spent in rehab among addicts that this is the exception, not the rule. And I'm not disparaging the people I met who had kids and were in for drug & alcohol. The addicts with children are most deserving of sympathy. They just illustrate the fact of how hard it is to overcome addiction even when your children come along and give you renewed strength. What Carr did is exceptional. I got bored with his post-recovery life, if only because the journalism part of most journalist biographies tend to be very boring. See also: Rick Bragg. I understand that that part of the book is necessary -- to go from addiction to the New York Times is kind of a big deal. But I still have less than a passing interest in the details of most people's professional success. (Sorry, that sounds harsh.) I do think this book is pretty inspirational, however. It is sweet and beautiful that he put so much effort into being a good parent and came out on the other end having achieved that, with two capable and happy adult children. At the risk of being a cheeseball, that is clearly his most important success.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paul E. Morph

    Early on in this book, Carr asks whether the world needs another ‘drug memoir’. I can’t speak for the world, but this is probably only the third such book I’ve read so I, for one, aren’t burnt out on them yet. I found this book quite engaging. I’ve had my own problems with what we euphemistically call ‘substances’ so I can empathise with a lot of it and sympathise with the rest. Yes, Carr did some absolutely horrifying stuff under the influence of drugs. While I’ve never been in his league, I’ve Early on in this book, Carr asks whether the world needs another ‘drug memoir’. I can’t speak for the world, but this is probably only the third such book I’ve read so I, for one, aren’t burnt out on them yet. I found this book quite engaging. I’ve had my own problems with what we euphemistically call ‘substances’ so I can empathise with a lot of it and sympathise with the rest. Yes, Carr did some absolutely horrifying stuff under the influence of drugs. While I’ve never been in his league, I’ve done enough things that I regret to not want to throw stones in my glass house. I found this book horrifying, sad, repellent and often funny. Carr has a great way of letting his sense of humour rise to the surface without ever trivialising what he’s talking about. As those of us who have had the misfortune to be plagued by a serious illness or disability already know, life is not solely what you make of it… but this book shows how, at some point, we still have to own it and make the best of the hand we’ve been dealt. This book really does present the man’s life ‘warts and all’. I never got the sense that he was trying to cover anything up. In fact, he goes into detail about the nature of memory, even when not addled by drugs, and I found what he had to say very interesting. It has probably changed the way in which I think about memory formation and recall… and my own memories. I’m not the same person I was before I read this book and if that’s not worth five stars I don’t know what is.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    I think this will be my last drug memoir for a while. The author is so evidently and coolly cashing in. I"m sure he'll be a big hit on the literary seminar circuit.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Patrick O'Neil

    The first half of the book was hard to read. Not because of the drug use, or the insanity that any human being's downward spiral consists of - dope fiend, or otherwise. No, the problem I had was I hated the narrator from the very first few pages. David Carr, or more specifically, Carr's behaviors and his lack of taking responsibilities, even now, years later. How he slapped his women around and treated others like shit. He even mentions this possibility, how the reader may not like him, and then The first half of the book was hard to read. Not because of the drug use, or the insanity that any human being's downward spiral consists of - dope fiend, or otherwise. No, the problem I had was I hated the narrator from the very first few pages. David Carr, or more specifically, Carr's behaviors and his lack of taking responsibilities, even now, years later. How he slapped his women around and treated others like shit. He even mentions this possibility, how the reader may not like him, and then sets up a scenario wherein he tries to formulate a tender response to a horrific event - I beat my girl friend, but I took care of our babies. Generally the first half of the book is the first part of the equation - the second half, if meant to be the "redemption" - falls flat, at least for me it did. That he outlined the "schtick" of most addict memoirs, and then outlines his own "schtick" as well, sort of feels as if I am being handed the same formula as before. However, I think his ideas on memory and how we all recall certain events in our lives is brilliant. I enjoyed him first stating his recollections, and then his debunking of his said memories through the testimony of others. I feel he was incredibly brave to do what he has done - putting it out there for the world to see. And once I did get through the first half, I found his story compelling.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    Memory, as Proust has so eloquently recounted, is a tricky thing. What we remember of an event is tinted by our own life experiences, opportunities, failures, and in no small part the exigencies of a given situation. What I remember of, say, a car accident I was in when I was 16 could be entirely different from the recollection of the driver of the car I was in, not to mention the occupants of the car that hit us. When speaking of the memories of the addict, this tendency for amnesia-fueled hist Memory, as Proust has so eloquently recounted, is a tricky thing. What we remember of an event is tinted by our own life experiences, opportunities, failures, and in no small part the exigencies of a given situation. What I remember of, say, a car accident I was in when I was 16 could be entirely different from the recollection of the driver of the car I was in, not to mention the occupants of the car that hit us. When speaking of the memories of the addict, this tendency for amnesia-fueled historical rewrites can be exacerbated to Swiftian proportions. So when I first heard of Gunn's memoir, wherein he seeks to ferret out the truth from his own stack of misremembered nights, I was intrigued. The idea of a reporter returning to the scene the crime twenty years afterward to interview witnesses and chart his own descent was a conceit that very much appealed to me. I can think of few books whose narrator I've loathed so absolutely and completely. From its opening pages, Carr lays himself bare to the reader, advising that he is not a good guy and that there is much in his past that can be found abhorrent. Don't worry, he reassures us readers, while he may have beaten more than a few women, he still pays penance and reemerges as the protagonist of his own story. He found salvation in the raising of his daughters and has concocted a redemption song that can make the most hard-hearted weep, so he hopes. I call bullshit. This book is the work of a self-aggrandizing narcissist who possesses both an unflinching honesty in recounting his addiction history but also no small measure of blindness as to how his own privileged position as a white male member of the press allowed him his many chances for self correction. Chances that are frittered away time and again in actions that would have sent a poorer person of color to prison for life. This lack of a broader context left me seething on more than one occasion as I made my way through Carr's memoir. Most significantly is the pass he gives himself regarding his history of abusing women. While interviewing one of his former victims, they both laugh awkwardly at the memory he has of holding her arms over her head while beating her face in an "oh look what drugs made me do" moment that absolves him of any personal guilt in terrorizing a woman he purported to love. Additionally he attempts to indict the testimony of the only woman who does hold him responsible for his lies and violence by repeatedly pointing out that she was also an addict and that she, unlike the heroic narrator, never managed to get her act together and is still struggling to this day. It took a while for me to pinpoint what rubbed me so raw about this book but I think that is it. That while purporting to be an honest narrative of his own descent and recovery, it is still constructed by an author that desires to be liked by his reader and so grants himself a pass to spin or softball some events I see as highly problematic. As far as addiction memoirs go, this is a well written attempt but about halfway through I came to the realization that David Foster Wallace has already said nearly everything that needs to be said about addiction and that everything else is just so much icing on the cake. There are better books out there dealing with this same difficult subject matter, Carr's is just not necessary.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    While I wanted to love this book, and it certainly provided some excellent gaper's block moments, overall I cannot say I would reccomend it. The concept is excellent: approaching a memoir from the perspective of a journalist. The result comes off as blowhard-y and bragadocious. Carr pretends to soul-search, but ultimately offers little in terms of wisdom about addiction or recovery. His descriptions of himself tend toward the hyperbolic. He was the WORST addict, the most THUGGISH white boy journ While I wanted to love this book, and it certainly provided some excellent gaper's block moments, overall I cannot say I would reccomend it. The concept is excellent: approaching a memoir from the perspective of a journalist. The result comes off as blowhard-y and bragadocious. Carr pretends to soul-search, but ultimately offers little in terms of wisdom about addiction or recovery. His descriptions of himself tend toward the hyperbolic. He was the WORST addict, the most THUGGISH white boy journalist (??), the FATTEST guy in the rehab, etc. He manages to be narcissistic even in his debasement...but then again, I guess that is the real message of the recovery memoir, intended or not. Addiction is about selfishness!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Breznican

    "You can't know the whole truth," says David Carr. "But if there is one, it lies in the space between people." Something haunting in that line, and relevant to anyone regardless of whether they share Carr's story of self-destruction and recovery. This reformed thug, drug addict and spiraling loser pulls out of the dive at a critical moment, rescues his infant twin daughters (or is it the other way around?) and rebuilds a shattered career to become a columnist for The New York Times. It's a ha "You can't know the whole truth," says David Carr. "But if there is one, it lies in the space between people." Something haunting in that line, and relevant to anyone regardless of whether they share Carr's story of self-destruction and recovery. This reformed thug, drug addict and spiraling loser pulls out of the dive at a critical moment, rescues his infant twin daughters (or is it the other way around?) and rebuilds a shattered career to become a columnist for The New York Times. It's a harrowing story -- part crime saga, part family heartwarmer -- but the remarkable thing is how he did it. Not trusting his own memory of events, Carr retraced the steps from That Guy to This Guy, using his skills as a journalist to interview his old friends, junkies, dealers, lawyers, counselors, to connect those dots. What makes The Night of the Gun transcend the everyday memoir is his exploration of the vagaries of memory -- who remembers what, and when. Stories retold become mythologized, sins he can't bear to see forgiven absolve themselves through forgetfulness, and the question of who pulled that gun on whom becomes more existential than whodunnit. Carr shows that memory becomes a biased informant, whispering that things weren't so bad, not our fault, and yet the truth can be found for those daring enough to confront it. As a fellow reporter, I found this book especially compelling. An excellent, riveting read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    2.5 I think. It was alright. I don't want to say anything bad about someone's personal story it's just that I thought the book was a bit too long. The thing that kept me most interested is that 3/4 of the book is set in Minneapolis where I live.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Allan

    I bought this in an Audible sale a few months ago given that it sounded a little like Bill Clegg's memoirs, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir and Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery, both of which I had been fascinated by. It was only on closer inspection just before I started listening, that I realise that David Carr was the same journalist with whom I'd been extremely impressed by while watching the 2011 documentary, 'Page One: Inside the New York Times', when his previous addiction I bought this in an Audible sale a few months ago given that it sounded a little like Bill Clegg's memoirs, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir and Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery, both of which I had been fascinated by. It was only on closer inspection just before I started listening, that I realise that David Carr was the same journalist with whom I'd been extremely impressed by while watching the 2011 documentary, 'Page One: Inside the New York Times', when his previous addiction issues had been alluded to, but which had slipped my mind. Addiction memoirs aren't written to be 'enjoyed', but I often find them to be gripping reads - aside from the aforementioned Clegg, the likes of James frey's albeit fictionalised memoirs and a number of musician biographies have always had me gripped. I'd put this memoir up with the best of them. Th premise of the book is that in 2007, Carr decides to investigate his own past by interviewing those who were close to him at the time, as well as checking official records, to get an idea as to whether his own memories correspond with the truth. The title refers to an incident in 1987, one of his lowest moments in his struggle with addiction. Carr comes from a family with an almost genetic penchant for addiction - alcohol being the drug of choice for his father and other family members. Unfortunately for Carr, he came of age as the crack epidemic was sweeping the USA, and it naturally gripped him as well. This really is a 'warts and all' account by a man who pulls no punches as to his own failings. A story of a cycle of rehab and recovery that grips him even as his career as an obviously talented journalist develops. Unsurprisingly, his memory of many events is different from the truth he finds on investigation, and while he is brutally honest about both how he acted and how it effected those around him, the over arching feeling on reading the memoir is one of admiration for a man that has ultimately held it all together, though perhaps that's the side of me who is a big fan of the likes of Bukowski's fiction, which deals with characters who experience the world's underbelly. Ultimately a fascinating memoir - I've already gone back and watched the NY Times documentary again while reading the book, and I'd highly recommend both.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    Up until reading this memoir, I only knew about David Carr through his "carpetbagger" blog on NYTimes.com, in which Carr reports during Hollywood's awards season, and occasionally posts videos of his misadventures. What I noticed looking at the carpetbagger was the thick midwestern accent and the penchant for referring to himself in the third person ("the carpetbagger wandered into sundance.."). It would never have occurred to me that this amiable and scratchy-voiced character could have been a Up until reading this memoir, I only knew about David Carr through his "carpetbagger" blog on NYTimes.com, in which Carr reports during Hollywood's awards season, and occasionally posts videos of his misadventures. What I noticed looking at the carpetbagger was the thick midwestern accent and the penchant for referring to himself in the third person ("the carpetbagger wandered into sundance.."). It would never have occurred to me that this amiable and scratchy-voiced character could have been a raging cokehead, alcoholic, crack user and abusive boyfriend. But that, apparently, is what he was. The main selling point of The Night of the Gun, a drug memoir that takes place largely in Minnesota, where Carr lived for most of his life, is that instead of just going off recollection, the skilled reporter goes back to his old haunts, flames and friends, and interviews the people who were there for his fifteen-year downward spiral. It's hard enough to remember things that happened to you long ago, Carr notes many times throughout, let alone things that happened to you (or that you did) while you were high. Maybe the reporter device is also a kind of distancing tool for Carr, one that allows him to be capable of confronting the desolation he wreaked in his life and the lives of those around him with a steady voice. This voice is not only steady but engaging, and part of the fun of reading this book is that it's also the story of how journalism happens, the ins and outs of the business from the late 70s to the present. Carr's book implicitly counters the widespread opinion that drug addicts are losers: he is talented, ambitious and smart, though even these traits in abundance are not enough to keep him from his drugs of choice. Piddly issues with the style of the book include the weird pacing (chapters are more like vignettes, and sometimes chronological progression is disregarded), the repetition of certain details and the presence of one too many fairly pedantic ruminations on the nature of memory. Still, worth looking into, especially if you are or have ever loved an addict, or have ever wanted to be a journalist.

  14. 5 out of 5

    MichelinaNeri

    I liked the concept of this book, the idea of using journalistic methods to really explore the truth in an addiction memoir. I found the book repetitive, the great revelation of "the night of the gun" and the truth that is uncovered is at the very beginning of the book. Much of the rest feels like a restatement of this central point. I also found Carr dislikable, though not because of what he did as an addict. I did appreciate Carr's honesty in admitting to things that even most addiction memoir I liked the concept of this book, the idea of using journalistic methods to really explore the truth in an addiction memoir. I found the book repetitive, the great revelation of "the night of the gun" and the truth that is uncovered is at the very beginning of the book. Much of the rest feels like a restatement of this central point. I also found Carr dislikable, though not because of what he did as an addict. I did appreciate Carr's honesty in admitting to things that even most addiction memoirs won't, especially considerable amounts of domestic violence. This isn't what rubbed me the wrong way, rather it was a tone of self-aggrandizement and ego that bothered me. Even in self-reflection on being self-absorbed he was self-absorbed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marti

    Eh, Carr rubs me the wrong way. I know, it would be irresponsible of me to judge a book by how much I like (or don't like) its author. So I'll try not to. Carr's goal here is truth. But there is something so over-the-top and smug about using the memoir format to dig up past acquaintances and videotape them commenting on those dark days. (Carr also notes that this is uncomfortable.) Sure he digs up some useful info and reveals a lot about our own version of the truth vs. reality. But even that met Eh, Carr rubs me the wrong way. I know, it would be irresponsible of me to judge a book by how much I like (or don't like) its author. So I'll try not to. Carr's goal here is truth. But there is something so over-the-top and smug about using the memoir format to dig up past acquaintances and videotape them commenting on those dark days. (Carr also notes that this is uncomfortable.) Sure he digs up some useful info and reveals a lot about our own version of the truth vs. reality. But even that methodology may be flawed. Just because someone says, "Hey, no, you're wrong; that's not how it happened," doesn't mean that he's right either. If anything, this method simply offers a sort of prism for the truth. Also, these people that Carr interviews sure seem to like him a lot and tell him how talented they thought he was, and he was throwing it away because he was so talented, but they hoped he'd bounce back, because gosh he was just so talented. I'm not a fan of Carr's writing, although, fine, yes, okay, he's talented. I'm a sucker for addiction/illness memoirs, and this was a quick, satisfying read (yes, yes, despite my caviling above). I didn't like this book, but I enjoyed it, if that makes any sense.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    David Carr was one of seven children born into a middle class family in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was always rather rebellious, and began taking drugs when he was still a teenager in high school. In The Night of the Gun, Carr traces his slow but steady descent into into the hellish world of addiction. He became a hard core crack cocaine addict, an abusive boyfriend, and an overweight, unemployed journalist. His behavior landed him in jail on numerous occasions. When his long time crack David Carr was one of seven children born into a middle class family in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was always rather rebellious, and began taking drugs when he was still a teenager in high school. In The Night of the Gun, Carr traces his slow but steady descent into into the hellish world of addiction. He became a hard core crack cocaine addict, an abusive boyfriend, and an overweight, unemployed journalist. His behavior landed him in jail on numerous occasions. When his long time crack addicted girlfriend became pregnant, Carr’s life suddenly changed. David Carr details his daily struggle to remain drug free after becoming a New York Times columnist. Several of his colleagues encouraged him to write about his experiences. When he began to seriously think about writing his story, he found that his memories were vague and sometimes nonexistent. So he returned to his former home and began to interview his family, friends, counselors, and former employers to fill in gaps, and to see if his memories of events corresponded to theirs. He also was able to access police and legal records to aid in reconstructing his former life. The result is a revealing, dark, gritty, and heartbreaking story that is very hard to read. Yet David Carr’s story is also one of resiliency and hope. David Carr died unexpectedly in 2015. It’s amazing that he didn’t become one of the many addicts who succumbed to their addiction. Even though this book is difficult to read, it is an interesting look at a life that had hit rock bottom, and the ferocious effort it took to overcome addiction.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    This book is reporter David Carr's answer to James Frey. For Carr's "junkie memoir," instead of just recalling (or fabricating) the past, he actually visits and interviews the people he did drugs with, bought drugs from, or hurt during the 1980s while he was an addict. He interviews his lawyers, his ex-girlfriends, his counselors, and the twin daughters whose birth inspired his recovery. He hopes this tactic will help him test his own memories and discover who he really was under the influence o This book is reporter David Carr's answer to James Frey. For Carr's "junkie memoir," instead of just recalling (or fabricating) the past, he actually visits and interviews the people he did drugs with, bought drugs from, or hurt during the 1980s while he was an addict. He interviews his lawyers, his ex-girlfriends, his counselors, and the twin daughters whose birth inspired his recovery. He hopes this tactic will help him test his own memories and discover who he really was under the influence of cocaine and crack. I thought it was a great conceit. You get the drama of someone in a downward spiral, and then you get the suspense of the interview -- Were his memories correct? Is his version of events true? Often enough to be interesting, the answer to those questions is No, and truth is often surprising to both Carr and his readers. He seems to want to be unflinching, although he doesn't look as hard at his relatively recent stint as a "suburban alcoholic," more than 10 years after he finally kicked cocaine. But generally, he misses no opportunity to kick himself (deservedly) in the ass, especially during the recovery chapters, when it's difficult to keep his story from becoming just a big Pat on the Back.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    This book was like the addiction anti-memoir. I love how candid Carr is in his assessment of himself. He freely admits that the easy story would be that he was a generally good guy who took a couple of wrong turns and then got his life back on track. But instead, he tells the tough story: he was high, he was a jerk, he hit women, he left his twin baby girls in the car on a winter night while he went into a house to do drugs. I don't think memoir gets much more honest than this. It's a great stor This book was like the addiction anti-memoir. I love how candid Carr is in his assessment of himself. He freely admits that the easy story would be that he was a generally good guy who took a couple of wrong turns and then got his life back on track. But instead, he tells the tough story: he was high, he was a jerk, he hit women, he left his twin baby girls in the car on a winter night while he went into a house to do drugs. I don't think memoir gets much more honest than this. It's a great story and one that deserves to be told: suburban kid from good family gets caught up in drugs. Goes to jail numerous times. Goes to rehab numerous times. Gets sole custody of twin girls, but still takes missteps. Finally straightens up and gets job at New York Times. Oh, throw some cancer in there, too. This is a well-written, intelligent book. Carr doesn't talk down to his readers, nor does he make his writing inaccessible. The tone is conversational, as one would expect from a good journalist. I'm sorry I didn't hop on the bandwagon right away when the book came out, but better late than never. For more evidence of Carr as a great character, watch the documentary "Page One."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Renata

    YES: I read this because after David Carr died I read a hundred tweets and articles about him and did not know who he was, but it seemed like I should rectify that, if belatedly. I couldn't put this book down. It's vicious in its honesty and self-awareness. I haven't read very many addiction memoirs but it's clear that Carr was familiar with the genre and makes frequent references to common tropes. I'd imagine Carr's writing is a cut above many similar works--indeed, he essentially says that's wh YES: I read this because after David Carr died I read a hundred tweets and articles about him and did not know who he was, but it seemed like I should rectify that, if belatedly. I couldn't put this book down. It's vicious in its honesty and self-awareness. I haven't read very many addiction memoirs but it's clear that Carr was familiar with the genre and makes frequent references to common tropes. I'd imagine Carr's writing is a cut above many similar works--indeed, he essentially says that's why he decided to write one. It reminded me also of Infinite Jest and how the treatment center plot of that is pseudo-biographical... shades of that here, too, of someone who believes themselves too smart to be an addict. I noticed other reviews mentioning that "The Night of the Gun" conceit isn't the whole of the book... it's a relatively minor part of it. But, like, of course, the story doesn't begin and end there. I think it's a great read for anyone, either to provide a non-addict with a look in at what addiction can be like, or, I would imagine, for an addict to connect with.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ruzz

    I never finished it. I was not engaged. not interested and not awed by his darkness (not nearly as awed as he is). Where Nikki Sixx droned on and on about his broken childhood and its role in his addiction, Carr refused to go near any sort of cause + effect. The book is fragmented and really more like a blog than a book because nothing ever leads to anything substantial. snippets of conversations of then badasses, now upstanding folk navel gazing about grouping around the crack pipe. or the nigh I never finished it. I was not engaged. not interested and not awed by his darkness (not nearly as awed as he is). Where Nikki Sixx droned on and on about his broken childhood and its role in his addiction, Carr refused to go near any sort of cause + effect. The book is fragmented and really more like a blog than a book because nothing ever leads to anything substantial. snippets of conversations of then badasses, now upstanding folk navel gazing about grouping around the crack pipe. or the night of the gun. wherein you might think something happened but it was really just a night where he thought someone else had a gun but he had it (vouchsafing how bad he really was, guh). He didn't shoot anyone. He didn't get shot. Bad people are not really that impressed by guns. not in my experience. they are tradecraft. part of the business. not the subject of a book, or a particularly harrowing memory. He failed to connect as an addict, or a person, or writer for me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Audacia Ray

    Fuck, I loved this book. On all layers, this was a memoir that I could really sink my teeth into (/read voraciously until done). Here's what's awesome about this book (in the precise ways that I like my memoirs, anyway): 1. Carr doesn't paint a rosy picture of himself. He was a scary coke fiend, abusive towards his girlfriends, and a royal fuckup. He doesn't pretend otherwise, he stares himself right down. 2. It consciously explores memory as a problematic thing and a living thing. And Carr has pro Fuck, I loved this book. On all layers, this was a memoir that I could really sink my teeth into (/read voraciously until done). Here's what's awesome about this book (in the precise ways that I like my memoirs, anyway): 1. Carr doesn't paint a rosy picture of himself. He was a scary coke fiend, abusive towards his girlfriends, and a royal fuckup. He doesn't pretend otherwise, he stares himself right down. 2. It consciously explores memory as a problematic thing and a living thing. And Carr has probably listened to the same Radiolab episode I have about memory. 3. It is built up on artifacts, many of which (letters, newspaper columns, arrest records) are reproduced in the book. Fun with narrative textures! 4. The writing is sharp, brutal, aware, and playful all at once.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    If, like me, you thought, as you read the subtitle ("A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own.") that this book would be held together by a thread of suspense about what really happened on one particular night, or during a particular period in the author's life, you, like me, will be disappointed. Carr is an excellent writer; funny, smart, wry, savvy... but this story is by and about a man who is as limited as the next guy, something he frequently admits but almost as frequ If, like me, you thought, as you read the subtitle ("A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own.") that this book would be held together by a thread of suspense about what really happened on one particular night, or during a particular period in the author's life, you, like me, will be disappointed. Carr is an excellent writer; funny, smart, wry, savvy... but this story is by and about a man who is as limited as the next guy, something he frequently admits but almost as frequently glosses over (particularly with respect to his misogynist tendencies), and I didn't find his life story as fascinating as he seems to find it himself. As an addiction/recovery narrative, "The Night of the Gun" is excellent, though twice as long as it needs to be. As an exploration of the way memory works, the difference between what we believe and need to believe about ourselves, and the objective reality of ourselves we might discover if we "reported the story out," as Carr purports to do, it fails, though the few times it does delve into this territory, it's brilliant. On page 334, for example, we get this: "Memories may be based on what happened to begin with, but they are reconstituted each time they are recalled--with the most-remembered events frequently the least accurate. What one is remembering is the memory, not the event. And memory uses the building blocks of fiction--physical detail, arc, character, and consequence--to help us explain ourselves to ourselves and to others. As such, remembering is an act of assertion as much as recollection. The neuroscientific term is reconsolidating. We accessorize the memory with the present tense..." But the book is 385 pages long, and such passages are few and far between. The main thread holding the narrative together, other than chronology, is the path from addiction to lasting recovery, and the many interviews Carr quotes from are almost universally, and sickeningly, laudatory. ("I wanted you," gushes an ex-lover; "You were the best boss I ever had," gushes an ex-employee.) The fact that Carr, an accomplished reporter, wrote this memoir in the apparent belief that every period in his life was worth chronicling--in detail--shows how terminally blinded he is, despite how hard he tries not to be, by his own bullshit--as are we all, to greater and lesser degrees. And *that* exploration would have made for a much more interesting book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Constantine

    I loved the concept of this book very, very much, particularly as someone who writes memoir and is constantly struggling with notions of truth and reality and memory. Carr has all of these ideas about his life as an addict, but when he goes to fact-check them, like any responsible journalist would, he finds out that his recollection is often not in line with those possessed by others. Shocking, I know, considering that it sounds like Carr did, in the words of Robin Williams in "Good Will Hunting I loved the concept of this book very, very much, particularly as someone who writes memoir and is constantly struggling with notions of truth and reality and memory. Carr has all of these ideas about his life as an addict, but when he goes to fact-check them, like any responsible journalist would, he finds out that his recollection is often not in line with those possessed by others. Shocking, I know, considering that it sounds like Carr did, in the words of Robin Williams in "Good Will Hunting," enough cocaine to kill a horse, but I think this holds true for even those of us who have never even as much as tasted a caffeinated soda in our lives. The execution, though...it waned after a while. The book is ostensibly about his addiction and his recovery, but it seemed to waver in the last third of the book, with a bout of cancer, a marriage and a relapse-and-recovery episode thrown on really quickly at the end. Basically, it started to read as though Carr got tired of writing, and just wanted to get the whole process of writing a book over with as quickly as possible. I did appreciate that Carr wrote about his history of abusing his girlfriends, which I can't imagine was easy for him to do, or for his ex-girlfriends to talk to him about. It wasn't easy for me to read, that's for sure. But it's one of those perspectives you almost never hear about in a way, at least not in a way that is all overly concerned with making excuses for themselves. Now that I think about it, I am pretty sure I have never read anything like it in my life. I'd say this book has more to recommend it than not, but if you aren't really interested in a) addiction or b) the mechanics and philosophy of memoir, then I am not sure you would find much in this for you.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    As I am reading this book currently, I have thus far learned that drugs and alcohol give you selective memory and you can be a real jerk on them. Okay, I am crawling closer and closer to the end (I don't have as much time to read as I used to.) I hate to say it but I am now enjoying this book and beginning to kind of like David Carr. But how did his twin daughters survive without health or behavioral issues while their mother smoked crack while pregnant? I guess my ob-gyn was right many years ago As I am reading this book currently, I have thus far learned that drugs and alcohol give you selective memory and you can be a real jerk on them. Okay, I am crawling closer and closer to the end (I don't have as much time to read as I used to.) I hate to say it but I am now enjoying this book and beginning to kind of like David Carr. But how did his twin daughters survive without health or behavioral issues while their mother smoked crack while pregnant? I guess my ob-gyn was right many years ago - babies are tough in vitro. Final review In the words of the author, there was too much lard in this book. It really needs to be edited down by a minimum of 100-150 pages. While the story of his life is entertaining, it was tiresome to read his account of events, then the other people involveds' accounting. Some things were given short shrift and other events were barely skimmed over. Still, it is an honest telling of a cocaine and alcohol addicted journalist. Carr even writes of his relapses and says the only way he stays sober is through meetings daily. I would have easily given this 5 stars but for the laborious fat to wade through to get to the real meat of the story. Carr works for the New York Times, you would think someone could have helped him to cut the shit as they say.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    I read this book by accident, but accidents happen and sometimes for a reason. This memoir is excellent. Yes, its a story of a very successful NY Times reporters harrowing life of addiction and eventual recovery, but it's really an investigative search for the truth of the ever changing narrative of our past and the stories we tell ourselves so that we can live with ourselves. A book i will try to remember. One paragraph looms larger than all and needs to be shared. "Even if i had amazing recall, I read this book by accident, but accidents happen and sometimes for a reason. This memoir is excellent. Yes, its a story of a very successful NY Times reporters harrowing life of addiction and eventual recovery, but it's really an investigative search for the truth of the ever changing narrative of our past and the stories we tell ourselves so that we can live with ourselves. A book i will try to remember. One paragraph looms larger than all and needs to be shared. "Even if i had amazing recall, and i don't, recollection is often just self-fashioning. Some of it is reflexive, designed to bury truths that cannot be swallowed, but other "memories" are just redemption myths writ small. Personal narrative is not simply opening up a vein and letting the blood flow toward anyone willing to stare. The historical self is created to keep dissonance at bay and render the subject palatable in the present."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lou Stellato

    Ugh I swore I'd never read another drug addict memoir and then I stupidly try again. Mixed in with the horror stories and regret is a great big stinking pile of "aww, but wasn't I cool and dangerous and dirty and what a time we had and weren't we rebels and those were the days and we were so fucked up but we lived to tell the tale" and then he ended up a big success. What a lesson. Boring self indulgent and annoying. Imagine if food addicts wrote memoirs with the same degree of bravado about the Ugh I swore I'd never read another drug addict memoir and then I stupidly try again. Mixed in with the horror stories and regret is a great big stinking pile of "aww, but wasn't I cool and dangerous and dirty and what a time we had and weren't we rebels and those were the days and we were so fucked up but we lived to tell the tale" and then he ended up a big success. What a lesson. Boring self indulgent and annoying. Imagine if food addicts wrote memoirs with the same degree of bravado about their excesses. I don't think everyone would be falling all over themselves to make them heroes. Or even praiseworthy cautionary tales.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    “Memories are like that. They live between synapses and between the people who hold them. Memories, even epic ones, are perishable from their very formation even in people who don't soak their brains in mood-altering chemicals. There is only so much space on any one person's hard drive, and old memories are prone to replacement by newer ones.”  “I now inhabit a life I don't deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn't end any ti “Memories are like that. They live between synapses and between the people who hold them. Memories, even epic ones, are perishable from their very formation even in people who don't soak their brains in mood-altering chemicals. There is only so much space on any one person's hard drive, and old memories are prone to replacement by newer ones.”  “I now inhabit a life I don't deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn't end any time soon”  I was not aware of David Carr as an award-winning journalist, but I remember being intrigued by this memoir, when it came out about a decade ago. As many books do, it got lost in the shuffle, but I was able to finally track the audiobook down and boy, I am glad I did. This may be the best addiction story I have ever read and possibly the best written. Due to his chronic drug and alcohol abuse, (and this is some harrowing stuff) he thought the best approach was to rely on others to help fill in the gaps of his careening life, so he began to interview family, friends and associates and unearth police and medical reports. Carr compiled all this research and used it to tell his story. Sadly, Carr died in 2015, still in his late 50s and sober for many years, but what a perfect print legacy to leave behind. Highly recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Lamb

    One of the fundamental questions that arises, when reading or writing memoir, is how much is true. This is the most insightful probing of that question that I have come across. Carr: "If, by virtue of neuroscience and human nature, every soul is a fiction of his own creation, what happens when those fictions come into conflict with someone else's memory of hard-and-fast events? Who wins? The one who tells the story the loudest? The one who remembers the most detail, however false? Or the one who One of the fundamental questions that arises, when reading or writing memoir, is how much is true. This is the most insightful probing of that question that I have come across. Carr: "If, by virtue of neuroscience and human nature, every soul is a fiction of his own creation, what happens when those fictions come into conflict with someone else's memory of hard-and-fast events? Who wins? The one who tells the story the loudest? The one who remembers the most detail, however false? Or the one who finds the lie on the others's tale first?"

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anastacia

    It's official. In my world, in my head, the memoir has jumped the shark. Want a book deal? Do drugs and be a hot mess for a few years! Know some famous people, for good measure! I am fascinated with drugs and the psychopharmacology aspect of how drugs affect the personality and, given that I'm a fan of memoirs, I thought I'd like this book. I guess I did at first, although I expected more...reporting, if that makes sense. The copy trumpets that this book is different than any other memoir because It's official. In my world, in my head, the memoir has jumped the shark. Want a book deal? Do drugs and be a hot mess for a few years! Know some famous people, for good measure! I am fascinated with drugs and the psychopharmacology aspect of how drugs affect the personality and, given that I'm a fan of memoirs, I thought I'd like this book. I guess I did at first, although I expected more...reporting, if that makes sense. The copy trumpets that this book is different than any other memoir because Mr. Carr is "reporting" on his own life. I think his attempt is an admirable one - Lord knows what people would say about me were I to revisit periods in my life. It's admirable, but unfortunately for me, it fell flat. It was less "reporting" than ordinary research any memoirist would do. It's a schtick that I knew going into it, to be fair, but it's a schtick that doesn't work. I like that one commenter below me pointed out that he's obviously cashing in, because it was obvious to me from page one. Do I blame him? No, I guess not. If I could cash in, I guess I would too. It was just not very well done. And yet the man can turn a fine, beautiful sentence or share a thought provoking sentiment. A lot of the writing is beautiful. It's the presentation that sucks. I'm tired of the memoir, the unabashed "Look at me!" attitudes and the saccharine sweet, formulaic advice on how the author changed and is all better now. I wish for once someone would write a story that doesn't subscribe to this formula because it's not very likely that it's the case for most of them. I feel deceived reading these memoirs. Reading Marya Hornbacher's follow up to Wasted set me on this path where all of a sudden a light turns on and you, the reader, find out that what you've read before, the words that inspired you on your own journey through whatever, were complete bullshit. I'm digressing a bit and it's a different subject, but frankly, if you really read between the lines, all these memoirs are formulaic BS. I was bad. I struggled. I stumbled. Triumph! For me, authors of their own memoir take on a certain responsibility from the moment they write that first word. What is written will be read and it might resonate with someone and that person is going to look up to author of said memoir for a leadership and inspiration by proxy, so maybe one should think about that instead of making a quick buck from some dirty story. There's a certain implied promise these authors make (not to be well forever, that would be ridiculous because people are human) when they write their memoirs. Memoirs catch our emotions and it's all the more upsetting to realize that they're just in it for the cash. I feel that this book underscores that notion. I wouldn't recommend this book unless I wanted to kill the memoir for another person. I'm on lockdown. No more memoirs. I think I'll stick to stories that actually mean something.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Years ago I met Carr on his book tour for Night of the Gun. His story grabbed me and I fully intended to read this Bio right away, but years passed, and sadly so did Carr. Night of the Gun landed in my hands once again this summer, and it was time. I did not exactly get what I expected, but I did get something better. The first half of the book was a struggle, one appalling party story after another with a jumbled timeline. I waded through, waiting for the part where he hits bottom and his recov Years ago I met Carr on his book tour for Night of the Gun. His story grabbed me and I fully intended to read this Bio right away, but years passed, and sadly so did Carr. Night of the Gun landed in my hands once again this summer, and it was time. I did not exactly get what I expected, but I did get something better. The first half of the book was a struggle, one appalling party story after another with a jumbled timeline. I waded through, waiting for the part where he hits bottom and his recovery story starts going up. But it went on down, down, down, almost glorifying his past. Frankly reading it made me feel ill. I had expected more than one long disjointed party story from an admired investigative reporter. But then half way through, the turn comes. Carr finds himself the father of infant twins with a crackhead baby mama, and he's done with his own bullshit. Are we on are way up now? Hardly, but this is where the book wins. His recovery story was far from bright and shiny, it wasn't easy, nor straight forward, and it sure as hell wasn't pretty. Throughout the book Carr interviews his peers to get their take on his story. Even during his first year of sobriety, where Carr himself feels like a superhero, the stories told by his family, peers, lawyers, etc.. were pretty sad and dark, often pathetic. Why on earth does this win, you ask? If you pay attention, Carr is offering a gift of sorts to anyone who has ever had a loved one going through recovery. An inside look at the overwhelming power of addiction, the struggles, the delusions, all the stuff you can't read in a pamphlet. It opened my eyes to something I thought I reasonably understood. There is a particular point where one of his many falls breaks my heart... After thinking he's learned everything he needs to know about his own addiction, he gets yet another life lesson. This book is not for everyone. It's rough, dark, ugly, and yet pretty amazing. I recommend this for anyone seeking a better understanding of a friend or loved one struggling with addiction. Please keep in mind this is just one man's story, your loved one may have a very different story.

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