The Night of the Gun

David Carr is the real deal New York Times media/culture critic and he’s coming out with a book about his days in Minnesota battling substance abuse and trying to get his life together, who only did so when his twin daughters came into his life. The early buzz is tantamount to a tsunami.

Books about substance abuse are often the most talked about books because they take place in a world that many people begin to travel down at 18-25, but most people make an abrupt U-turn when the realize the stakes involved with continuing down the darkened alley. And let’s be honest, to a certain extent for those who have never been habitual drug users, it’s a fascinating world. One that 80% of people are not privy to.

He’s the rub for The Night of the Gun. David Carr doesn’t trust his memory of those events, so rather than embellish them and become embroiled in some James Frey-type of shit (would you want Oprah bitch-slapping you?) he went out and thoroughly investigated his own life. Pouring over court documents and arrest records and interviewing over sixty people connected to his life at that time. It sounds like heady stuff. Stuff that I can’t wait to dig into.

The New York Times Magazine ran an excerpt this morning of the book titled “Me and My Girls.” It’s breathtaking, simply one of the most outstanding things I’ve read in quite some time.

When memory is called to answer, it often answers back with deception. How is it that almost every warm bar stool contains a hero, a star of his own epic, who is the sum of his amazing stories?

If I said I was a fat thug who beat up women and sold bad coke, would you like my story? What if instead I wrote that I was a recovered addict who obtained sole custody of my twin girls, got us off welfare and raised them by myself, even though I had a little touch of cancer? Now we?re talking. Both are equally true, but as a member of a self-interpreting species, one that fights to keep disharmony at a remove, I?m inclined to mention my tenderhearted attentions as a single parent before I get around to the fact that I hit their mother when we were together. We tell ourselves that we lie to protect others, but the self usually comes out looking damn good in the process.

The arc of the addict, warm and familiar as a Hallmark movie with only the details pivoting, is especially tidy in the recollection:

I had a beer with friends.

I shot dope into my neck.

I got in trouble.

I saw the error of my ways.

I found Jesus or 12 steps or bhakti yoga.

Now everything is new again.

In the convention of the recovery narrative, readers will want to scan past the tick-tock, looking for the yucky part so that they can feel better about themselves. (Here?s a taste: When I got to detox for what I thought was the last time, they took one look at my arms and brought me a tub filled with lukewarm water and Dreft detergent to soak my scabrous, pus-filled track marks. They dropped pills into my mouth from several inches away as if feeding a baby bird, and even the wet-brain drunks wouldn?t come near me. See how that works?)

The book comes out August 5, 2008.

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