The other night as I tuned in to “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central I saw an interview with David Carr about Carr’s new book The Night of the Gun. Of immediate interest was that I enjoy Carr’s various musings in the New York Times (Carpetbagger Blog and otherwise) and Colbert’s nightly ridiculousness (and both people live just around the corner from my parents, strangely enough). Of more pressing interest however was that the book is not about a journalist’s rise to one of the most revered positions in the industry, but instead his own dark goings-on with a crack and alcohol addiction that ruined his life and derailed that of his family.
His story is at once inspirational and sticky, covering everything from addiction to various related illegalities (no doubt the capillaries of such serious problems) to raising children and the foibles of relationships in a life when you can’t even handle personal responsibility.
On the plus side he is no apologist, he is very clear about who is at fault and that he was making serious mistakes–for which he has atoned to whatever extent one can in a perhaps short stint of sobriety.
His approach as journalist rather than nostalgist is a placement that should prove more appropriate than other stories about substance abuse that create a carefully arranged menagerie of facts, but qualms are still to be found. For one, undoubtedly you are going to make some other people look very, very bad, including possibly your own family, if you engage in something like this. Although the idea could be to clean one’s own slate, the fact is a story like this can smack of a certain self-indulgence–the duality of dragging oneself down to try and come out cleaner on the other side. I’m not going to indict Carr for selfishness, hopefully that behavior was at least mostly left by the wayside along with his affection for drink, but the possibility is there and the risk is high when relations have already been strained.
Ultimately, I would say check it out, see for yourself. David Carr is a great writer, and perhaps it behooves us to give him a chance, recognizing the lack of makeup, even if his cross-bearing is live and in HD.