Addiction & Alcoholism

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
AddictionsA Can of MadnessA Drop of the Hard StuffA Million Little PiecesAA: Not the Only WayAddicted Like MeAddictionAddictionAddictionAddiction and ArtAddiction and ChangeAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction Is a ChoiceAddiction NeuroethicsAddiction Recovery ToolsAddiction TrajectoriesAddiction TreatmentAddictive BehaviorsAdvances in the Neuroscience of AddictionAlternatives to AbstinenceBeautiful BoyBeyond AddictionBlackoutBlameBodies in Motion and at RestBrokenCaught in the NetChasing the HighChasing the ScreamCircles of RecoveryCloserCodependent ForevermoreControlling Your Drinking: Tools to Make Moderation Work for YouCrackedCreating the American JunkieCybersexDirtyDrinkingDrinking in AmericaDrug Dealer, MDDrunk the Night BeforeDrunkardDryDuplicityEcstasyForces of HabitFree RefillsFrom Sabotage to SuccessGetting HookedGetting OffGetting WastedHigh PriceHookedHow to Spot Hidden Alcoholicshow to stop timeHypnosis for Smoking CessationIf I Die Before I WakeIllness or Deviance?In the Shadows of the NetLeaving Las VegasLitLithium for MedeaLiving With One’s PastLove JunkieMatters of SubstanceMemoirs of an Addicted BrainMethadoniaModerate DrinkingMore, Now, AgainMy Friend LeonardNever EnoughOver the InfluencePorn NationPowerfully Recovered!Rachel Getting MarriedRachel's HolidayReal Solutions for Overcoming Internet AddictionsRecovery from AddictionRecovery OptionsRequiem for a Dream DVDSex Addiction as Affect Dysregulation Sex Addiction: The Partner's PerspectiveShameShe Bets Her LifeSmackSmashedSmashedStop Smoking and Chewing Tobacco for Life ChangesStrong FeelingsSubstance Abuse As SymptomTackling AddictionTalking Oneself SoberThe 5 Reasons Why We OvereatThe AddictThe AlcoholicThe Angry HeartThe Behavioral AddictionsThe Betty Ford Center Book of AnswersThe Big FixThe Biology of DesireThe Book of JamaicaThe Chemical Dependence Treatment PlannerThe Heart of AddictionThe Meaning of AddictionThe Night of the GunThe RecoveringThe Science of AddictionThe Science of Self-ControlThe Sober TruthTheory of AddictionThinking about AddictionTreating AddictionTweakUS of AAVirtual AddictionVoices of AlcoholismWhat Did I Do Last Night?What is Addiction?Writing to Heal

Related Topics
The Night of the GunReview - The Night of the Gun
A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of his Life--His Own
by David Carr
Simon & Schuster, 2008
Review by Christian Perring
Feb 3rd 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 6)

Here's the basic idea of Night of the Gun.  David Carr as a young man worked as a journalist, drank, did drugs, and got into fights.  Eventually he started doing crack cocaine, and his life got more out of control.  He was dealing, and he was in danger of getting into real trouble.  Around this time, he got a fellow-user pregnant, and she gave birth to twin girls.  He ended going into rehab several times, and eventually he ended up with custody of the girls.  He gets cancer but the treatment puts it in remission. He pulled his life together, got better jobs as editor of the Twin Cities Reader, the Washington City Paper, as a contributing writer for The Atlantic and New York Magazine, and now as a writer at the New York Times.  This memoir tells his story with the twist that he used his skills as a reporter to follow up and check on his memories, interviewing some of the people from his past and getting their versions of events, which were sometimes dramatically different from his own. 

It's an interesting idea, and he gets high praise in his blurbs from such luminaries as Kurt Andersen, Jeffrey Toobin, and Richard Price.  However, I found the book unreadable.  Most addiction memoirs are hard work, since the experience of having an author explain to readers how they messed up again and again and again is akin to having your head repeatedly smacked against a brick wall.  Some addiction memoirs are redeemed by having particularly interesting details or dramas.  Occasionally they are just very well written.  Unfortunately, Night of the Gun has none of these redeeming features. 

The book might work better if Carr had carried through more fully on treating the book as an investigation of his own life.  However, it ends up being a tale of his memories and then more tales of his meeting up with old friends and acquaintances after not seeing them for ten or twenty years.  What's more, he writes in a colloquial style as if he were talking to you sitting at a bar, which works well enough for a page or two but quickly gets old. 

The fact that Carr's memory of his days or drugs and alcohol is faulty is no great surprise; it is also no revelation that there are many ways to tell a story, and a memoirist has to decide what facts to select.  The most interesting aspect of Carr's idea here is about how looking back on his life, and trying to be objective about it in the manner required by news reporting, gives him a new understanding of his former self.  The best chapter of the book is the Intermission, where he reflects on the process of writing the book and hating his former self.  Unfortunately, the writing of the book gives very little sense of the distance between his former self and his current self. 

Readers would do best to read Carr's article for the Sunday New York Times Magazine, which is better edited than any chapter in his book, and browsing through the Night of the Gun website, which has several interesting videos where he talks about his past and interviews people from the past.  The thing is that Carr himself seems like an interesting character, and he is capable of telling a good story.  But he is better on camera than he is as a memoir writer. 


·         Book website

·         Me and My Girls NY Times Magazine July 20, 2008

·         David Carr on Charlie Rose, August 21, 2008

·         David Carr on NPR's Fresh Air

© 2009 Christian Perring

Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.


Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716