A mildly engaging but flawed memoir of addiction and recovery from freelance journalist Moore.
Growing up in Iowa, the author knew he was gay—and that Iowa was boring. There wasn’t much to do but get smashed or high. After graduating from high school, he escaped to college in Pittsburgh, where he met Dino and began an intense love affair. Though they were passionate about one another, both periodically slept with other men; Dino eventually was diagnosed with AIDS. As he cared for his dying lover, Moore, who hadn’t been infected, found relief in activism, getting arrested during early ACT UP protests. He also found more sinister distraction in drugs, especially crystal meth and coke. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles and got sober. He was helped by AA’s storied “higher power,” praying sometimes to Dino, sometimes to the ocean. He took up yoga and spent time in sweat lodges. In the book’s better moments, Moore interjects social critique with a light touch—wondering, for example, why the mainstream media began worrying about meth only once straight teens were hooked. The most gripping scenes find him sober, working at a recovery house and helping other addicts. He compellingly describes the “assortment of castoffs” who came together to beat their addictions; Judy, the tough-skinned lesbian counselor who led the recovery group, steals the show. Other characters, unfortunately, are not as vividly rendered. Moore’s long reminiscences about Dino, for example, would have been enlivened by more dialogue. The author’s non-chronological technique, flashing backward and forward among various memories, proves confusing and irksome. In addition, it feels forced to begin and end the memoir with reflections on the author’s quirky grandmother, who struggled with her own addictions.
Bland prose and few original insights.