The Night of the Gun is David Carr’s autobiographical study of his own addiction, first to cocaine and later to alcohol, among other medical maladies, cancer and diabetes among them. Of course he did a few other things along the way, like raising twins and becoming a New York Times columnist. He’s already had a full life.
It’s clear he wrote the book for himself, a recovery vehicle of a sort. It’s self-indulgent. He’s entitled. We all are.
But nobody has to enjoy it. He’s not entitled to that. Yet, I did. Well, mostly. The first quarter or so includes stories of his coke-enhanced escapades. I had to skim and skip. I really have no patience for another tale of drug-induced property destruction. The externalities of substance use are high enough. Spare me the wild ride. It’s not fun or funny even if it’s true. It’s disgusting, but Carr didn’t tell it that way, even if he tried. And, in a way, he did. He quoted people who flat out said he, as an addict, was a jerk or worse. (I vote for worse.)
Just as I thought I might put the book down in disgust, its focus changed. The antics faded, and the serious work of being an addict commenced. Carr recounts the nature of addiction, the lengths one will go for the next fix, the havoc it wreaks on one’s life, livelihood, and relationships, and, finally, recovery and relapse (rinse, repeat). Not everyone makes it that far.
Finally, if you haven’t read him, Carr can write. His approach is also interesting. It’s his story, but he told it like the journalist he is. He reported it through interviews with those whose lives he touched and that touched him.
I’ll probably read other books by recovering addicts, but the bar is high.You’ll find more about the book here.