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

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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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3803 KB
  • Print Length: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 5, 2008)
  • Publication Date: August 5, 2008
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001DXNZ9Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,412 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on July 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Let's say, for the sake of argument, that a guy threw himself under a crosstown bus and lived to tell the tale," David Carr writes. "Is that a book you'd like to read?"

Good question. Indeed, it's the question that prospective readers of "The Night of the Gun", Carr's warts-and-all memoir, will have to consider --- because this is that book.

Consider:

A talented kid without much direction graduates from high school pot smoking to cocaine at college.

He starts a career in journalism that has him reporting on police and government officials by day --- and freebasing cocaine at night.

He hooks up with a woman who deals dope. Driving to see her, he's so wrecked he almost crashes into a station wagon filled with kids. He skids into a ditch, has to spend the night in jail, misses his girlfriend's birthday. When he finally shows up, he gives her what can't be bought in any store: a black eye and a broken rib.

He introduces his girlfriend to crack. She gets pregnant. They become so thoroughly addicted that, just as her water is breaking, he's handing her a crack pipe. Their twin daughters are crack babies.

He splits with his girlfriend, and, because he has a nice job, keeps the girls with him. This does not stop him from locking them in the car while he runs into a dealer's house to score.

The gun: As he recalls it, he was so out of control that his best friend not only has to call the cops but wave a gun at him. His best friend remembers it another way --- as David's gun.

In detox, his arms are so nasty that the staffers have him reach into a tub of detergent so they don't have to touch him. It takes a full month for the drug psychosis to wear off.
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Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to like this book, and because of that I forced myself to read the final 200 pages, even though every instinct in my body told me to stop halfway through. I should have followed my gut. This book lacks any sort of actual depth. You don't get a good sense of what he went through, and I'll have to take his word that it was awful (it clearly was, but only because I know what his experiences were like, but he doesn't present the emotions in any way that you can connect to). Furthermore, I found the vast majority of it to be self-indulgent, almost as if he wanted to shout "These terrible things happened to me, and I did terrible things to others, but I'm actually a great, smart, funny, good looking guy!! I swear!!" A perfect example of this is as the end of the book he finally gets around to talking about the interviews he did with his daughters. An excellent opportunity to demonstrate how his behavior took him from being a God in their eyes to showing how he low he could fall. Instead what does he do? In a 3 page chapter covering both daughters he has about a paragraph from each of them, and in each paragraph they both say how intelligent he was. He doesn't conduct any interviews with the people who don't think he's great. For example, he talks about meeting his wife and how people told her to stay away from him. Why didn't he talk to any of them about what he did that made them hate him so much? Instead of interviewing some of his former employees who hated his guts he talks to the ones who say he was the best boss they ever had. I'm not saying he's a jerk, but everyone has people that dislike them, and in order to truly understand the awful things he did and how they affected people he should have talked to some of them.Read more ›
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Format: 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?
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