New York Times reporter Carr bluntly reveals his former life in hell, when he juggled two talents: smoking crack and filing news.
It started out with innocent teenage pot smoking, typical stuff for a suburban Minneapolis kid in the 1980s. By the end of the decade, having cultivated a colossal cocaine habit, the author had deteriorated into a ghost of himself. He was in and out of jail cells and rehab; his legend grew in the streets; his reputation sank to no-hire status in local newsrooms. He got involved with “Anna,” a cute blonde drug dealer: “Six months after we had gotten together, her business was in disarray, I had lost my job, and then, oh yeah, she was pregnant.” Their twin daughters were born on April 15, 1988, two-and-a-half months premature, each weighing less than three pounds. “When Anna’s water broke,” Carr writes, “I had just handed her a crack pipe.” Soon he was using cocaine intravenously and fell into paranoia and depravity that made even his dealers shake their heads. With the help of family and friends, he did an about-face, putting the seven-month-old twins in foster care and throwing himself into recovery. When Anna continued using, he sued for and got permanent custody. He worked his way to the top of the masthead of the local alt-weekly newspaper, winning awards and providing a stable home for his daughters. But as Carr reminds the reader, with every new height a recovering addict reaches, the bottom is just a short slip away. Perhaps in response to the Million Little Pieces scandal, or perhaps because he doesn’t trust his subjective and drug-warped memory, the author provides backup and other points of view for every phase of his life. His book is based on dozens of recently taped interviews with everyone from his parents to drug dealers, and it includes photocopies of arrest reports, clinical observations and even rejection letters from national editors.
A brilliantly written, brutally honest memoir.