Former Soul Coughing singer Doughty’s memoir about sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll and the spiritual benefits of world travel.

The author half-seriously calls his book “just another drug narrative,” and it's true. There’s nothing about Doughty’s longtime love for pot, coke, heroin and Ecstasy that hasn’t already been superseded by hundreds of other rock-star druggies who eventually replaced compulsive drug use with some form of equally compulsive religious behavior. What makes this story tolerable is not his voracious appetite for drugs and groupie sex but rather the mundane facts of his life as a mid-level rock star. Born the privileged son of a West Point–educated military historian, Doughty grew up knowing only a whitewashed suburban existence. He moved to New York City in the early 1990s to become an East Village creative type, putting together what seemed like just another acoustic act playing the NYC club circuit. But within a year of its inception, Soul Coughing got snapped up in the post-Nirvana major-label signing frenzy. The band consisted of Doughty on guitar and vocals and three jazzbo sidemen whose main function seemed to be busting Doughty’s chops for his lack of musical ability. After readers get to know his insufferable band mates, the author’s addiction becomes more understandable. Yet there’s also something desperately exhibitionist about Doughty’s willingness to recount in brutally frank detail even the most miserable experiences with drugs, groupies, itinerant girlfriends and prostitutes. More interesting than the sex and drugs, however, are the poisonous band dynamics that eventually destroyed Soul Coughing. Though Doughty’s inevitable turn to rehab spiritualism is neither interesting nor inspiring, the stories of his exotic world travel—trips to Cambodia and Ethiopia, for instance—offer a few memorable culture-clash moments. Another mostly enjoyable but unremarkable excess-leads-to-the-palace-of-wisdom drug memoir.  


Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-306-81877-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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