A man recounts the depths of addiction and the miracles of recovery in this debut memoir.
“I had my first drink at the age of six.” So begins Preston’s account of his long descent into alcoholism and drug dependency. From this first taste of a partially consumed glass of whiskey at a family Christmas party in 1970, Preston was immediately hooked: “It opened my eyes in a way they had never been opened.” The book describes the curious coming-of-age moments in the life of a young addict: buying Champale from a diner as a junior high school student, imitating singer Barry White’s deep voice in order to pass for an adult; smoking marijuana and drinking malt liquor while waiting for the school bus; and getting an A on a test during his first semester of college while using cocaine, then failing out two semesters later—while using more cocaine. Preston later got a job at an insurance company, had a daughter out of wedlock, discovered crack cocaine, and got arrested. The author encountered the very worst that addiction had to offer during a decadeslong struggle that saw him in and out of jobs, relationships, prison, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers, and involved in all manner of scams. Eventually, he says, he became a person that he could no longer recognize, love, or respect. Despite this, he managed to clean up his life, find peace, and live to tell the tale. Preston is a talented storyteller and a fine writer with an endearing sense of humor and a great memory for detail. The way he writes about drugs, in particular, is compelling—and interestingly, he writes about popular music in much the same way. For instance, he describes the work of the funk-rock band Parliament-Funkadelic thusly: “This stuff was raw like sushi and I craved it more and more.” The author manages to accomplish the difficult task of writing about addiction in a lively way, and despite the fact that he confesses to legitimately horrible things, he manages to keep readers on his side. Preston crafts a sympathetic, honest, and satisfying tale of despair and redemption.
A thoroughly entertaining and affecting remembrance.