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Leaving Dirty Jersey: A Crystal Meth Memoir Hardcover – May 8, 2007
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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, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
It's precisely the relative absence of shock-for-shock's sake that made this book such a satisfying read. As described by Salant, a drug addict's world isn't exciting; it's just sordid (which Salant acknlowedges in recounting some of the gross and/or unsavory things he did while addicted. Those of us who like to read about unsavory things done by other people - and I'm one of them - do get their money's worth in this memoir). But it's his writing that struck me as singular.
Told by a less talented writer, this story could have been ho-hum. But Salant writes with great clarity and economy, and seems objective as he can be in a book about himself. He does talk about writing poetry in the book, though sometimes he lied about that so his parents would send him money, so I'm not sure how much poetry he actually wrote!
But as for his prose, Salant writes as if he's been writing forever - he's that good. He's an extremely talented young writer, and thanks to that, this book wasn't the cobbled-together addiction exploitation book it very easily could have been.
Another reviewer said he (or she) would have liked more about his recovery. I think that might have been too much; I think Salant was right in leaving off where he did. And for an addict or alcoholic, there is always the chance of relapse; it's risky talking about your "recovery" when you're still in your early 20s. That's just my view, of course.
But this one's absolutely well worth reading.
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.
This book is a great, fun read. The main character Jim (the author James Salant) keeps you on the edge of your seat.
James doesnt waste your time trying to give you statistics on drugs, drug use or even how meth is produced.
This is his story of addiction, from beginning to end. Its not a pretty journey through the countryside, but rather a long walk down a dirty, dangerous back alley.
Meth use is a disgusting, but growing problem in the U.S. This book gives you one mans glimpse of what it was like being hooked on it!!!