Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card
 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.
The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own.
 
See larger image
 

The Night of the Gun: A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own. [Kindle Edition]

David Carr
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $10.76
You Save: $6.24 (37%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

‹  Return to Product Overview

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2008: In his fabulously entertaining The Kid Stays in the Picture, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans wrote: "There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth." David Carr's riveting debut memoir, The Night of the Gun, takes this theory to the extreme, as the New York Times reporter embarks on a three-year fact-finding mission to revisit his harrowing past as a drug addict and discovers that the search for answers can reveal many versions of the truth. Carr acknowledges that you can't write a my-life-as-an-addict story without the recent memoir scandals of James Frey and others weighing you down, but he regains the reader's trust by relying on his reporting skills to conduct dozens of often uncomfortable interviews with old party buddies, cops, and ex-girlfriends and follow an endless paper trail of legal and medical records, mug shots, and rejection letters. The kaleidoscopic narrative follows Carr through failed relationships and botched jobs, in and out of rehab and all manner of unsavory places in between, with cameos from the likes of Tom Arnold, Jayson Blair, and Barbara Bush. Admittedly, it's hard to love David Carr--sometimes you barely like the guy. How can you feel sympathy for a man who was smoking crack with his pregnant girlfriend when her water broke? But plenty of dark humor rushes through the book, and knowing that this troubled man will make it--will survive addiction, fight cancer, raise his twin girls--makes you want to stick around for the full 400-page journey. --Brad Thomas Parsons

From Publishers Weekly

An intriguing premise informs Carr's memoir of drug addiction—he went back to his hometown of Minneapolis and interviewed the friends, lovers and family members who witnessed his downfall. A successful, albeit hard-partying, journalist, Carr developed a taste for coke that led him to smoke and shoot the drug. At the height of his use in the late 1980s, his similarly addicted girlfriend gave birth to twin daughters. Carr, now a New York Times columnist, gives both the lowlights of his addiction (the fights, binges and arrests) as well as the painstaking reconstruction of his life. Soon after he quit drugs, he was thrown for another loop when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Unfortunately, the book is less a real investigation of his life than an anecdotal chronicle of wild behavior. What's more, his clinical approach (he videotaped all his interviews), meant to create context, sometimes distances readers from it. By turns self-consciously prurient and intentionally vague, Carr tends to jump back and forth in time within the narrative, leaving the book strangely incoherent. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

"Every hangover begins with an inventory," Carr, a columnist for the Times, writes in this bracingly honest memoir. In sharp and sometimes poetic prose, the author takes a detailed inventory of his years of drug addiction, chronicling the slide from drinking and marijuana use during his teen years in Minneapolis to shooting cocaine and smoking crack while trying to maintain his life as a reporter and the father of twin girls. Carr is meticulous in the investigation of his past, reconstructing events with the aid of police reports, magazine rejection letters, and more than sixty interviews with friends, former dealers, and fellow-addicts. His journalistic skills are on full display as he works to excavate the truth from his often hazy memories. He evinces genuine remorse for his frequently reprehensible behavior and succeeds in creating something more than merely another entry in what he terms the "growing pile of junkie memoirs."
Copyright ©2008Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

From Bookmarks Magazine

Addiction memoirs are about the last thing most book critics want to read; even the good ones usually—and necessarily—follow a narrative pattern determined by the drugs themselves. All reviewers agreed that David Carr manages to break the mold by injecting his contemporary reporter persona into the tale, adding new insight into the situation of the addict. This alone distinguishes the book from others in the genre. Yet a few reviewers seemed a little weary of the overall addiction narrative and the nastiness that inevitably comes with it. Others picked up on a complaint best expressed by the New York Times: while Carr’s documentary approach provides deep insight into the life of an addict, it gives us remarkably little of his psyche, depriving the work of some of the vigor that has made memoirs like those of Augusten Burroughs so popular.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the midst of his life of drug-induced mayhem, Carr visited a friend one night and threatened him with violence. A gun was involved, but did Carr threaten his friend with the gun, or did his friend threaten use of the gun in self-defense? To answer that question and hundreds of others, Carr—unwilling to rely on his iffy memory—used the tools of journalism to recount his past. He interviewed dealers, fellow addicts, women he had dated, employers, friends; he checked police reports and medical records. What he found was a personal history at times much uglier than he remembered. What he also found were redeeming moments: he was a good parent to his twin daughters, once he sobered up and got custody from their equally drug-addled mother, and he was a very talented writer with a career worth saving. He went on to an illustrious career at several alternative newspapers and the New York Times, all the while hanging on to the hard-learned and re-learned lessons of drug and alcohol addiction. This is a harrowing tale, brutally honest and more insightful and revealing than the standard drug-addict memoir. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"The Night of the Gun, is the fierce, funny, disturbing, brutally honest, and ultimately uplifting story of Carr's decent into a self-inflicted hell and a bumpy return to life. Part investigative page-turner, part redemption song, part meditation on the mercurial nature of memory, The Night of the Gun pulls a besmirched genre out of the gutter, drags it through rehab, and returns it to a respectable place in society. And, if there is any justice, a place on the best-seller list."
-- Arianna Huffington on Veryshortlist.com

Review

"[A] fierce, self-lacerating tale....writing full of that special journalistic energy that is driven by a combination of reporting and intelligence."
--Pete Hamill, The New York Times

"[A] remarkable narrative of redemption...He writes with grace and precision...With grit and a recovering user's candor, Mr. Carr has written an arresting tale..."
-- Edward Kosner, The Wall Street Journal

"3 stars. It's an odyssey you'll find hard to forget."
-- Kim Hubbard, People

"The Night of the Gun is about as dark and murky as dark and murky get. And though it is one of the most eloquent accounts of the seduction and snare of addiction, what's gotten lost in the water-cooler discussion about Carr's misadventures -- including drug peddling as well as his bout with cancer -- is that this book, in its sharp, serrated prose, is a meditation on how memory works (but mostly how it doesn't), a man's obsessive effort to get at his life's true narrative using the skills he's honed as a reporter, the one piece of his life that didn't combust."
-- George Lynell, L.A. Times

"After years of abuse, the memoir has found its white knight, galloping in to show how a personal story can be engrossing, shocking and true. Mr. Carr's book...practically issues a challenge to thosecurrent reigning kings -- David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Ishmael Beah -- of the memoir genre: You get a video camera and tape recorder, and retrace the steps of your life. Will your story sound the same?...It adds up to a riveting, improbable story. More important, Mr. Carr has produced a work that stands to revive the excitement and thrill of reading about reporting. It's All the President's Men, but about a dude from Minnesota with a drug habit."
-- New York Observer Review of Books

"There may be no memoirist who has more skillfully used journalistic tools to reconstruct his own life than New York Times media columnist David Carr in his remarkable and harrowing book, The Night of the Gun....A."
--Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly

"The Night of the Gun is in part a writerly exercise in defense and disarmament--memoir in the throes of an existential crisis. But that does not prevent it from being a great read. This is largely because, in using his reporter's chops to investigate his own past, Carr taps the very skills that propelled him to survive. His method, as much as his madness, is the story."
--Time

"He never asks for sympathy, but his skill and the way he has told his story deserves respect. The Night of the Gun is an amazingly honest and fascinating memoir."
-- Myrna Blyth, National Review

"The Night of the Gun, is the fierce, funny, disturbing, brutally honest, and ultimately uplifting story of Carr's decent into a self-inflicted hell and a bumpy return to life. Part investigative page-turner, part redemption song, part meditation on the mercurial nature of memory, The Night of the Gun pulls a besmirched genre out of the gutter, drags it through rehab, and returns it to a respectable place in society. And, if there is any justice, a place on the best-seller list."
-- Arianna Huffington on Veryshortlist.com

About the Author

David Carr is a reporter and the Media Equation columnist for The New York Times and has been a contributor to New York magazine and The Atlantic Monthly. From 1993 to 1995 he was editor of the Twin Cities Reader in Minneapolis. He lives with his family in Montclair, New Jersey.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

Gun Play

Sure as a gun.
-- Don Quixote

The voice came from a long distance off, like a far-flung radio signal, all crackle and mystery with just an occasional word coming through. And then it was as if a hill had been crested and the signal locked. The voice was suddenly clear.

"You can get up from this chair, go to treatment, and keep your job. There's a bed waiting for you. Just go," said the editor, a friendly guy, sitting behind the desk. "Or you can refuse and be fired." Friendly but firm.

The static returned, but now he had my attention. I knew about treatment -- I had mumbled the slogans, eaten the Jell-O, and worn the paper slippers, twice. I was at the end of my monthlong probation at a business magazine in Minneapolis; it had begun with grave promises to reform, to show up at work like a normal person, and I had almost made it. But the day before, March 17, 1987, was Saint Patrick's Day. Obeisance was required for my shanty Irish heritage. I twisted off the middle of the workday to celebrate my genetic loading with green beer and Jameson Irish whiskey. And cocaine. Lots and lots of coke. There was a van, friends from the office, and a call to some pals, including Tom, a comedian I knew. We decided to attend a small but brave Saint Patrick's Day parade in Hopkins, Minnesota, the suburban town where I grew up.

My mother made the parade happen through sheer force of will. She blew a whistle, and people came. There were no floats, just a bunch of drunk Irish-for-a-days and their kids, yelling and waving banners to unsuspecting locals who set up folding chairs as if there were going to be a real parade. After we walked down Main Street accompanied only by those sad little metal noisemakers, we all filed into the Knights of Columbus hall. The adults did standup drinking while the kids assembled for some entertainment. I told my mom that Tom the comedian had some good material for the kids. He immediately began spraying purple jokes in all directions and was wrestled off the stage by a few nearby adults. I remember telling my mom we were sorry as we left, but I don't remember precisely what happened after that.

I know we did lots of "more." That's what we called coke. We called it more because it was the operative metaphor for the drug. Even if it was the first call of the night, we would say, "You got any more?" because there would always be more -- more need, more coke, more calls.

After the Knights of Columbus debacle -- it was rendered as a triumph after we got in the van -- we went downtown to McCready's, an Irish bar in name only that was kind of a clubhouse for our crowd. We had some more, along with shots of Irish whiskey. We kept calling it "just a wee taste" in honor of the occasion. The shot glasses piled up between trips to the back room for line after line of coke, and at closing time we moved to a house party. Then the dreaded walk home accompanied by the chirping of birds.

That's how it always went, wheeling through bars, selling, cadging, or giving away coke, drinking like a sailor and swearing like a pirate. And then somehow slinking into work as a reporter. Maybe it took a line or two off the bottom of the desk drawer to achieve battle readiness in the morning, but hey, I was there, wasn't I?

On the day I got fired -- it would be some time before I worked again -- I was on the last vapors of a young career that demonstrated real aptitude. Even as I was getting busy with the coke at night, I was happy to hold the cops and government officials to account in my day job. Getting loaded, acting the fool, seemed like a part of the job description, at least the way I did it. Editors dealt with my idiosyncrasies -- covering the city council in a bowling shirt and red visor sunglasses -- because I was well sourced in what was essentially a small town and wrote a great deal of copy. I saw my bifurcated existence as the best of both worlds, no worries. But now that mad run seemed to be over. I sat with my hands on the arms of the chair that suddenly seemed wired with very strong current.

There was no time to panic, but the panic came anyway. Holy shit. They are on to me.

The editor prodded me gently for an answer. Treatment or professional unallotment? For an addict the choice between sanity and chaos is sometimes a riddle, but my mind was suddenly epically clear.

"I'm not done yet."

Things moved quickly after that. After a stop at my desk, I went down the elevator and out into a brutally clear morning. Magically, my friend Paul was walking down the street in front of my office building, looking ravaged in a leather coat and sunglasses. He hadn't even beaten the birds home. I told him I had just been fired, which was clinically true but not the whole story. A folk singer of significant talent and many virulent songs about the wages of working for The Man, Paul understood immediately. He had some pills of iffy provenance -- neither he nor I knew much about pills -- maybe they were muscle relaxers. I ate them.

Freshly, emphatically fired, I was suffused with a rush of sudden liberation. A celebration was in order. I called Donald, my trusty wingman. A pal from college, he was tall, dark, and compliant, a boon companion once he got a couple of pops in him. We had first met at a crappy state college in Wisconsin, where we tucked dozens of capers under our belts. We had been washed down a mountain in the Smokies inside a tent, created a campfire out of four stacked picnic tables at Wolf River, and casually taken out picket fences and toppled mailboxes during road trips all over Wisconsin. Our shared taste for skipping classes in lieu of hikes, Frisbee, and dropping acid during college had been replaced by new frolics once we both moved on to Minneapolis.

We worked restaurant jobs, pouring and downing liquor, spending the ready cash as fast as it came in. "Make some calls!" became the warm-up line for many a night of grand foolishness. We shared friends, money, and, once, a woman named Signe, a worldly cocktail waitress who found herself wanly amused by the two guys tripping on acid one night at closing time at a bar called Moby Dick's. "Let me know when you boys are finished," she said in a bored voice as Donald and I grinned madly at each other from either end of her. We didn't care. He was a painter and photographer when he wasn't getting shit faced. And at a certain point, I became a journalist when I wasn't ingesting all the substances I could get my hands on. We were a fine pair. Now that I had been fired for cause, there was no doubt that Donald would know what to say.

"Fuck 'em," he said when he met me at McCready's to toast my first day between opportunities. The pills had made me a little hinky, but I shook it off with a snort of coke. Nicely prepped, we went to the Cabooze, a Minneapolis blues bar. Details are unclear, but there was some sort of beef inside, and we were asked to leave. Donald complained on the way out that I was always getting us 86'd, and my response included throwing him across the expansive hood of his battered '75 LTD. Seeing the trend, he drove away, leaving me standing with thirty-four cents in my pocket. That detail I remember.

I was pissed: Not about losing my job -- they'd be sorry. Not about getting 86'd -- that was routine. But my best friend had abandoned me. I was livid, and somebody was going to get it. I walked the few miles back to McCready's to refuel and called Donald at home.

"I'm coming over." Hearing the quiet menace in my voice, he advised me against it; that he had a gun.

"Oh really? Now I'm coming over for sure."

He and his sister Ann Marie had a nice rental on Nicollet Avenue in a rugged neighborhood on the south side of Minneapolis, not far from where I lived. I don't remember how I got there, but I stormed up to the front door -- a thick one of wood and glass -- and after no one answered, I tried kicking my way in. My right knee started to give way before my sneaker did any damage. Ann Marie, finally giving in to the commotion, came to the door and asked me what I was going to do if I came in.

"I just want to talk to him."

Donald came to the door and, true to his word, had a handgun at his side. With genuine regret on his face, he said he was going to call the cops. I had been in that house dozens of times and knew the phone was in his bedroom. I limped around the corner and put my fist through the window, grabbed the phone, and held it aloft in my bloody arm. "All right, call 'em, motherfucker! Call 'em! Call the goddamn cops!" I felt like Jack Fucking Nicholson. Momentarily impressed, Donald recovered long enough to grab the phone out of my bloody hand and do just that.

When we met again through the glass of the front door, he still had the gun, but his voice was now friendly. "You should leave. They're coming right now." I looked down Nicollet toward Lake Street and saw a fast-moving squad car with the cherries lit, no siren.

I wasn't limping anymore. I had eight blocks to go to my apartment, full tilt all the way. Off the steps, 'round the house, and into the alleys. Several squads were crisscrossing. What the hell did Donald tell them? I thought as I sprinted. I dove behind a Dumpster to avoid one squad coming around the corner, opening up a flap of jeans and skin on my other knee. I had to hit the bushes and be very still as the cops strafed the area with their searchlights, but I made it, scurrying up the back steps to my apartment in a fourplex on Garfield Avenue. I was bleeding, covered in sweat, and suddenly very hungry. I decided to heat up some leftover ribs, turned the oven on high, and left the door of it open so I could smell the ribs when they heated up. And then I passed out on my couch.

Every hangover begins with an inventory. The next morning mine began with my mouth. I had been baking all night, and it was as dry as a two-year-old chicken bone. My head was a small prison, all yelps of pain and alarm, each movement seeming to shift bits of broken glass in my skull. My right arm came into view for inspection, caked i...

‹  Return to Product Overview