Customer Review

52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A looooonnnnng night, August 21, 2008
This review is from: The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of his Life--His Own (Hardcover)
The concept behind David Carr's memoir is intriguing. Stoned and drunk for much of his early life, the fact that he couldn't trust his own memories was brought home to him when he was shown that he completely misremembered an incident with a gun (hence the book's title). So, reporter that he is, he set out to interview people who knew him back in the day. He became an investigative reporter tracking down the young David Carr. Along the way, he discovered lots of things he said and did, but of which he has either no or distorted recollections.

So the angle that Night of the Gun takes is attractive. That's the good news. The bad news is that Carr can't quite deliver. For starters, the book is way too long and so the episodes Carr recounts (often with cinematic speed and compactness) tend to become repetitious. So there's a lot of words but not a lot of depth. Moreover, the lack of depth is reflected in the tough guy, Mickey Spillane style Carr chooses to write in, a style that comes across as inauthentic and, within just a few pages, incredibly annoying. Perhaps the point of the style is to create a living-on-the-edge ambience. But it doesn't work very well.

Ultimately, and most seriously, it's difficult to see what the point of Carr's book is. Is it to draw attention to the mysterious ways in which our memories deceive us? But if so, there's precious little real reflection on the issue, and most of it consists of unenlightening one-liners. (What a lost opportunity.) Is it to impress upon us the terrible things that drug and alcohol addictions do? But surely this has been done a bazillion times already in other memoirs as well as in films and novels (read anything by Hubert Selby, Jr., for example). Is the book intended to be a sort of celebrity confessional? But if so, it falls short of the mark because Mr. Carr simply isn't a celebrity.

I'm glad that Carr has straightened out his life. But I'm afraid his book rates no more than two and a half stars. For more authentic and better written recent memoirs of the addicted life, I recommend Lee Stringer's Grand Central Winter, David Sheff's Beautiful Boy, or James Salant's Leaving Dirty Jersey.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 1, 2008 3:39:10 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2008 5:46:36 AM PST
I'd be surprised if Ms Bloom read this book - the review is spot on. The book was tedious and redundant. Thirty yarns would have made the point better than 130.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 24, 2008 8:08:38 AM PST
Taylor Rand says:
I felt the book was vivid and honest and not at all redundant or tedious. I do agree with the reviewer's wish for a bit more introspective "what I was feeling, why I did this" element to The Night of the Gun, because at times, it does feel as though Mr. Carr's was more an observer to his own life than the actual subject. I'm not saying that David didn't convey the roller coaster life he led in raw detail but at times, I wanted to know more than a sentence or paragraph of what he felt about this incident or that: the horror, the despair, the indifference, the self-loathing, and the highs, the victories.

Posted on Dec 28, 2008 2:42:43 PM PST
Earl Vance says:
Great review! I fully agree--what's so interesting and deep about his poor, crack addicted girlfriend expecting their twin daughters. Carr tries to sound tough but his writing is mediocre and his content is bland, wordy and full of cliches. When he talks about visiting a "titty bar" I threw the book out and wondered what Carr would think if his own poor, crack conceived daughters ended up working in one of these very bars one day. The answer came pronto:He wouldn't care. Carr is a self absorbed junkie whose sole interest is himself. Sad, because he just ain't that intriguing and can't hide that behind watery, weak prose.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 9, 2010 5:58:34 PM PST
LWD01915 says:
Funny, because I feel that any "problems" Kerry Walters has with Carr's The Night of the Gun are trivial compared with the one major truth-the fact that Carr didn't remember the details of his night with a gun. I've read a lot of addiction memoirs and am always surprised (and suspicious) that after years of substance abuse, a recovering addict turned writer can seemingly recount with precise detail (when he/she has just drank, shot up, smoked, or swallowed massive amounts of mind altering substances) the events of a particular night. I think that Carr's finally realizing that he had it all wrong (HE had the gun, not his friend) makes his book unique and real.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 30, 2010 2:35:20 PM PDT
LWD01915 I agree.The inaccurate perception of an addict seems to me the point of the book. The only problem I have is Mr Carr's self admitted mistaken recollections during sobriety.Or maybe he means to underscore the potential of subjectivity in reporting.But it could be dangerous to a journalist.Trust the pen and notebook and not the memory

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 27, 2011 6:39:36 AM PDT
Jerry Waxler says:
Great review. I agree with the problems of Mickey Spillane tone. In fact, I found myself incredibly annoyed and this reviews helps me understand why. The problem of mismatched memories is powerful and important, but the author's expectation that I'm supposed to be surprised over and over by the same revelation left me too bored to finish.
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Review Details



Kerry Walters

Location: Lewisburg, PA USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,786