Tom Sykes grew up in England, went to the very expensive school Eton, got expelled for bad behavior, went into journalism, continued to behave badly but got rewarded for it, got a job in New York City reporting on nightlife and gossip, and when he ran out of money, he gave up drinking and drugs and started going to AA meetings. The person he hurt most through his excessive behavior (apart from himself) was his partner Sasha, and she didn't seem to mind much. So it is hard to hold much against him, even though in his description of his life as a reporter for the New York Post Page Six gossip page, he confirms every prejudice one might have against such people. Sykes ties his reliance on drink and drugs to both his father's abandonment of the family when he was 14, and his father's continuing failure to make any effort to connect with him. His father's behavior certainly hurt him, but whether it serves as any sort of explanation for his tendency to drink too much is hard to say. Sykes' siblings didn't become drunks, although it seems that they probably had just as much cause and opportunity. Many other people also suffer much more traumatic experiences as teenagers or younger children without becoming self-indulgent drug and alcohol users. But Sykes does not try to blame his parents' broken marriage for his own bad behavior, and in fact mostly reports the fun he had when he was drunk and high. His main problems were that he was an unreliable employee, but he must have been good enough at his jobs in order to impress his bosses. Furthermore, he prides himself on never having cheated on Sasha. So he gives the impression that, despite his problems with alcohol, cocaine, and marihuana, he is a more dependable and conscientious person than his father. This memoir is a quick read, and it is remarkable as an addiction memoir for lacking stories of multiple relapses and causing terrible pain to family, friends, and lovers. It is mainly a tale of a journalist enjoying a partying life to the maximum extent possible and then stopping when things were getting out of hand. It would have been improved by more details of his involvement with AA, how long he kept on going to meetings once he was sober, and whether he feels that he has to abstain from alcohol for the rest of his life in order to prevent a relapse.
© 2009 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.
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