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Customer Review

on April 11, 2012
I absolutely loved Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man--it was harrowing, it threw the reader into each moment, and achieved a sense of coherence even within its chaos. The author didn't include any "writerly" self-awareness in that book, because it wasn't necessary; it was simply the telling of a drug-fueled story as he recalled it.

Ninety Days, however, suffers from a complete and utter lack of self-awareness even after the author is well into recovery, and the book fails as a result. The author is self-pitying throughout (dramatically dropping to the ground, throwing lamps, screaming into the wind), but any awareness of his self-pity registers only through others' observations, not his own self-realization or growth. In "Portrait," he was somewhat annoyingly woe-is-me, but that was acceptable because he was getting high the entire time so there was almost no breathing room for analysis of his character. Now, even during his moments of clarity/not using (not to mention that he should have achieved some growth during the 5 years between hitting his "90 days" and finishing the book), he is just a cry-baby about everything that HE caused. For example, he's upset that Asa doesn't show up to his 1-year meeting, yet he fails to have any self-awareness to understand that it's because he seduced Asa and then dropped him when he met Elliot (with whom he started a relationship even though everyone, sponsors included, told him not to--a choice that he "[doesn't] regret," even with the writerly distance, which further shows his lack of awareness). If he had any real revelations, or any genuine discussion of himself (aside from the basic recitation of the events), the reader would be drawn in. What we're left with, instead, is a remarkably self-pitying (even to this day), remarkably unaware, narrator...one who, at the end, tries to convince the reader that HIS path to sobriety is the way to go, even as he states, in the last pages, that he's essentially a slave to co-dependency for the rest of his life. The author hasn't learned much since the first book, no matter how many repetitive descriptions of meetings and relapses he includes. And the writing style is so all-over-the-map that it makes one wonder if he had an editor; he switches tenses for no discernible reason and jumps back and forth in time within a given sentence so frequently that some of the passages don't make any sense, even after repeated readings. He employed a similar style in "Portrait," but, as with the lack of awareness in that book, it complemented the content of that book. Here, it just reads as sloppiness.

Overall, a huge, insufferable (even at 191 pages in what appears to be 20-point font) disappointment.
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