ink-stained wretches

Go Ask David Carr

Photo: Patrick McMullan

We don’t think we’re alone when we admit that, in the past, addiction memoirs have kind of made us want to do drugs. Like Go Ask Alice. Remember how our heroine did drugs that looked like candy, got thin, ran away to San Francisco, and opened a hippie store? That sounded pretty cool to us, although that was not the intention of the teachers who handed it out with anti-drug pamphlets in junior high. And we didn’t read A Million Little Pieces, but suffice it to say that we’re clearly not the only ones who’ve thought that the redemption-after-rock-bottom-drug-addiction narrative makes for a more heroic, more interesting existence. But David Carr’s memoir, which is excerpted in the Times Magazine this weekend, adamantly does not make addiction sound remotely glamorous, because his addiction was actually real. “There is nothing romantic about being a crackhead and a drunk,” the Times reporter says at one point, and then goes on to prove it, by reporting out the events of his life back when he was a 300-pound, Nova-driving thug with pus-oozing track marks and a dealer called Kenny. He once left his twin babies in a car while he shot up cocaine. For several hours. In the winter.

Here’s what Zelda and David, the couple that took in his daughters when he finally went to rehab, told him about that time.

Zelda: “You were very serious, very somber, and it felt kind of belligerent, like you really weren’t interested, like you really didn’t want to talk to us much, but we were a necessary evil. This was a good place to put the girls. You were that way and — ”

Pat interrupted. “And you were high.”

Zelda: “You were a bit disheveled.”

David: “Disheveled and high.”

Zelda: “Yes.”

Pat: “And you fell on the floor.”

David: “In what way?”

Pat: “You just kind of lost your balance and fell on the floor, and I remember thinking that if one of the babies was there, the baby would have suffered some pretty severe injury.”

That’s not even remotely the worst of it.

That Carr managed to reinvent himself as a father, award-winning reporter, and potato-faced speaker of truth does make his story heroic and definitely worth reading, but we can’t imagine ever wanting to live it. High-school libraries might want to stock up in bulk.

Go Ask David Carr