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The Book of Drugs: A Memoir Paperback – January 10, 2012
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Rock musician Doughty, former leader of the band Soul Coughing, makes clear from the start that he loves drugs, especially heroin. He just doesn’t like what they do to him, and at this point in his life, he has no desire to try them again. Cognizant of the James Frey syndrome, Doughty admits that he has changed names in an effort to avoid problems even as he asks, “Isn’t memory itself an act of imagination?” In this conversational, rambling, and picaresque memoir—one without chapter breaks—Doughty recalls a childhood and adolescence where after his sophomore year in high school, he attended an experimental college (“a weird school,” he says) in Massachusetts. He recalls, too, his various druggie activities, including dancing in a club under the influence of acid and snorting heroin in a basement dressing room. Although Doughty’s many drug escapades become a bit redundant after a while, anyone with an interest in pop culture generally and rock music in particular should appreciate this insider’s account of life on the road. --June Sawyers
“[A] tell all rock chronicle…The book reads like Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries, a close-up chronicle of a heroin addict.”
Lincoln Journal-Star, 3/25/12
“An honest, oft-funny memoir that captures his rock ‘n' roll heart while telling the clichéd drug story without resorting to cliché.”
“Full of succulent period errata, much like Patti Smith's Just Kids and Eileen Myles' Inferno. We go to legendary places and meet legendary people along the way…Like Smith and Myles, Doughty recreates downtown Manhattan in his formative moment with adroit and insouciant deftness. One comes to see and know as he has. It is a deeply enchanting backdrop for a deeply disenchanting behind-the-scenes.”
“This story will interest those who following the contemporary music scene and who will enjoy a look behind the spotlights and glamour.”
“Not only an open look by Doughty at his past addiction problems, but a smart, funny, and honest view of the late 80s/early 90s NY music scene, Doughty’s years with the band Soul Coughing, and what it was like to reach the other side of a very dark place. Don’t for a moment think that Mike Doughty has written your typical I-got-clean-and-now-I’m-above-all-that sort of book."
“A funny, haunted tale in which no one—bandmates, producers, fans, A&R reps, fellow musicians such as Jeff Buckley and Redman, and least of all Doughty himself—is spared.”
“A chronicle of Doughty’s journey through making music for a living and all that came/comes with it.”
“[Doughty] describes his neurotic former bandmates and his own outrageous behavior with self-deprecating humor and brutal honesty.”
“[A] spectacular new memoir…A whirlwind, flash-fiction-style account of [Doughty’s] life…A painful, funny, acidic memoir.”
“The unspoken rule of rock ‘n’ roll memoirs—especially ones about drug-addled players who get clean—is that the author tends to mend fences rather than sling mud. Mike Doughty: not so much. In The Book of Drugs, the former Soul Coughing frontman writes with a lacerating candor about his family, his narcotic and sexual excesses, the idiocy of the music industry, and, most of all, his former band mates.”
“Doughty’s humble voice and one foot forever in the indie underground makes this book more “Cash” by Johnny Cash than “Life” by Keith Richards…[Doughty] writes as memory occurs to everyone, and his tone is loose and familiar enough to feel like a conversation…His humor is wry and self-deprecating.”
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The reason I give it 3 stars, however, is because Doughty spends too much time bitching about his band and doesn't seem to have much insight into his own behavior in relationship to how things turned out. Honestly, the guy comes off as a small-hearted tool.
But I suppose it has the same appeal as reality TV. It's hard to look away from a train wreck.
The book was a fun little read into the dark side of the Soul Coughing days, the hell of drug addiction, and the bliss of recovery. "Fun" in that the style, short, choppy, stream-of-thought paragraphs and pages, makes it easy to read, but hard to put down. The story points to where a lot of Mike's lyrics come from today - you get a glimpse of the pain and frustration that produces the great tunes he belts out today. As a substance abuse therapist myself, I get to see the success and struggle of addictions everyday - Mike tells it in an authentic and personal way. Knowing that he is on "the other side" today, it was enjoyable to read of his trials and path to recovery - it may not have been the same if he wasn't as doing as well as he was
Good book for the music junky, Doughty fan, or recovery/substance abuse reader. If you want to read about the joys of being in a band, or what a great group Soul Coughing was, maybe you should just stick with listening to the tunes.
Most recent customer reviews
recommend it !!!!