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Leaving Dirty Jersey: A Crystal Meth Memoir Hardcover – May 8, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In its first pages, this disturbing memoir sees upper middle-class New Jersey 18-year-old Salant plopped in a California drug recovery center by his parents, where he attempts "kicking heroin among strangers" some 3,000 miles from home. Before long, Salant has ditched the recovery center and embarked on a chaotic, crime-riddled year addicted to crystal meth and the whopping sex life that's part of its allure. Supported by both his well-meaning parents and by selling drugs, Salant deals with a cast of dysfunctional junkies at turns caring, comical and highly unsettling. Though he never addresses the big picture-the so-called epidemic of meth use in America-there's plenty of gory details about life as a drug addict, from a dealer shooting meth into her neck while her daughter watches TV in the next room, to an uncomfortable, drug-fueled threesome with a violent paranoiac. The tale of Salant's recovery, however, is remarkably abrupt; Savant explains he "didn't decide to turn my life around. I just stopped trying so hard to ruin it." Savant's story is a depressing, at times disgusting, and largely demoralizing tale; as such, it offers an unrelentingly bleak account of one man's encounter with America's crystal meth culture, for readers who have the stomach for it.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"If prose were a mind-altering substance, James Salant would be your neighbourhood pusher. Lord knows, the man will make an addict of you" -- Koren Zailckas, author of SMASHED: GROWING UP A DRUNK GIRL "Normally I hate to tell anyone what to do, or what to think, or read. But I honestly believe every parent should read this book. And every teenager on the verge of a drug trip should read it. And everyone else, too. It's that good, that important" -- Dava Sobel, author of LONGITUDE "Leaving Dirty Jersey is a harrowing, pitiful account of one guy's demise into full scale addiction and insanity ... Up there with Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries for drug rites of passage books" Blowback Magazine "Like watching a car crash, the gruesome details - drug deals gone wrong, violence and seedy motels - make the book compulsive reading" Big Issue "Completely addictive ... brilliant" Word Magazine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Spotlight Entertainment (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416936297
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416936299
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,900,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Leaving Dirty Jersey is author James Salant's account of his years as Jimmy -- an eighteen-year-old preppie Jersey kid turned heroin and meth addict. Jimmy got into a major scuffle with his hometown police during a drug raid, so his well-meaning parents took their lawyer's advice to tuck him away in an out-of-state rehab program to wait out his trial date. He left New Jersey for the Riverside, CA Get Straight For Life program, in which he was introduced to a broad network of local connections before moving with his new crowd into a sober-living facility.

Within weeks, Jimmy is using drugs again. For a year, he drifts between boarding houses, motels, and meth couches of Riverside, wheedling money out of his desperate parents, selling drugs, and desperately working on his street cred. He runs with a crowd of flaky, unreliable druggies, each of whom look out only for him or herself. Their scores and hustles are strangely enrapturing, and Salant's dialog is gritty and sharp. Days consist of nothing more than theft, lies, scrams, and scores, and Salant admits to it all. When he finally embraces sobriety, after a year drifting in Riverside, Salant credits his peers in recovery with breaking him of his need to posture as a tough guy. It takes years, but Salant learned that there's a lot more to life than looking cool for your "friends."

Leaving Dirty Jersey is a quick read with a straightforward message and little to no recovery-speak. At the end of the book, within one page, Jimmy goes from near-death to a new life as James, the author with recovery under his belt and a great girl. However, Salant is nothing if not brutally honest about the downfalls of addiction - he takes credit for both his screw-ups and successes in this gritty but pleasantly brief memoir.
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Format: Hardcover
If you look at James Salant's author photo on the back of this book, you see a baby-faced kid, admittedly very cute, trying to look tough. Leaving Dirty Jersey is 23-year-old Salant's story of his crippling drug addiction, and his author photo is misleading. All his life, he wanted to be tough and now, with this book, all he wants to do is come clean, in more ways than one.

The book is gritty and real, allowing people who have never had more than a few beers a look at the other side. In his writing, Salant is both self-conscious and courageous, as there are things in this book that you'd never want to tell anyone, let alone everyone.

With tales of banging female junkies in dirty hotel rooms, shooting up in trailer park bathrooms, and desperately masturbating to laptop porn, Leaving Dirty Jersey is not for the faint of heart.
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Format: Hardcover
Leaving Dirty Jersey is a (very) detailed and gritty account of a young man spiraling down through the perils of the drug-world. Salant's writing is both enthralling and droll--you're on the edge of your seat as he hangs with volatile criminals but also reminded of how tedious the dealer life is as he spends a lot of time waiting around on couches for people to stop "sketching" and pay him. Some of the writing is hard to swallow, there are raunchy scenes, uncomfortable threesomes, and a whole lot of aggressive homo-eroticism, but Salant's humorous and good-natured voice will keep you routing for him throughout. This book is seriously addicting, as Salant's mind unravels, you feel yourself going a little crazy too. You may start to "sketch" and read the whole thing in one sitting.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having dealt with meth addicts in my work, I was really interested to read a book from a junkie's perspective. Mr. Salant's story is unusual, in my experience, in that he was shooting heroin before every going to meth. As a result, he almost immediately begins intraveneous meth use, which is a pretty rare -- and serious -- starting point.

However, his descent into the meth world, the life driven by the single-minded quest for the next hit, the deceit, the overwhelming paranoia, and the moral and physical decay are presented vividly. You keep thinking, why would anyone want to even start down this path?

A disturbing part of this story is the parents' enabling role in their son's ongoing addiction, especially in light of their older son's similar descent into the drug world. Their naivete and gullibility jarred me in light of their educated, middle class upbringing. Mr. Salant consistently cons them out of money and sympathy. But I wonder if as a parent I would be able to engage in the "tough love" he appears to have needed.

The primary reason that I gave this book 4 stars, and not 5, is the author's failure to discuss fully the difficulty of getting and remaining sober, when he eventually chooses to do so. In my observations, meth addiction is one of the most difficult to overcome, particularly on a long-term basis due to the permanent damage which it wreaks on one's brain. I would have liked the book to flesh out that ongoing process, so that readers don't come away with an unrealistic understanding of the complexity of getting and staying "straight."

Nevertheless, this is an interesting and vivid work of the lives and thought processes of meth additcts.
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