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The Night of the Gun

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  3,353 ratings  ·  587 reviews
Do we remember only the stories we can live with?The ones that make us look good in the rearview mirror? In "The Night of the Gun," David Carr redefines memoir with the revelatory story of his years as an addict and chronicles his journey from crack-house regular to regular columnist for "The New York Times." Built on sixty videotaped interviews, legal and medical records, ...more
Hardcover, 385 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Simon & Schuster
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The concept of this book is great: as a former drug addict, David Carr has trouble recalling a great portion of his own life. Now an established reporter, Carr uses his reporting tools and techniques to uncover his own past. I believe everyone has a story, and I have no-doubt that Carr's is an interesting one. The research is promising, but the delivery needs serious work.

I cannot get through this book. I have tried & tried. I cannot seem to read more than four pages at a time. I am intelli
There are so few ways to deviate from the addiction memoir outline, short of posthumous publication. The plot lines are easy, like a murder mystery or a romance novel. Your hero is a drunk/junkie/bulimic/sex addict. Your hero faces a lifestyle change in which the options are extreme: change vs. death. Your hero dusts himself off [typically more than once], washes his hair, excavates the past for meaning and and writes something intelligible about how at one point he poked drugs into his eyeball ...more
UPDATE: Rest in peace, David Carr. Sending hopeful thoughts to your daughters.

If I have learned anything from my life over the past couple of months -- obsessively watching prison documentaries, reading The Night of the Gun, volunteering -- it is that there is great courage and great utility in being honest about your past. Raising awareness of what you have done not only helps the world understand, it helps you complete your own recovery. I know some people do not heal from talking about things
Patrick O'Neil
The first half of the book was hard to read. Not because of the drug use, or the insanity that any human being's downward spiral consists of - dope fiend, or otherwise. No, the problem I had was I hated the narrator from the very first few pages. David Carr, or more specifically, Carr's behaviors and his lack of taking responsibilities, even now, years later. How he slapped his women around and treated others like shit. He even mentions this possibility, how the reader may not like him, and then ...more
I think this will be my last drug memoir for a while. The author is so evidently and coolly cashing in. I"m sure he'll be a big hit on the literary seminar circuit.
This is perhaps the best memoir I have ever read. The approach Carr takes to this overbaked genre is unique and genre-busting. He reports on his own life--interviewing, researching, synthesizing--and ends up with an endlessly engaging, brutally honest tome about a remarkable life. His voice is gritty, kind of wiseguy-ish, full of easy slang, reminded me of Jim Knipfel (which I consider to be a huge compliment, by the way). I couldn't read this book fast enough, stayed up late in the evening to r ...more
Sep 23, 2008 Anne rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: memoir "junkies" like myself
While I wanted to love this book, and it certainly provided some excellent gaper's block moments, overall I cannot say I would reccomend it. The concept is excellent: approaching a memoir from the perspective of a journalist. The result comes off as blowhard-y and bragadocious. Carr pretends to soul-search, but ultimately offers little in terms of wisdom about addiction or recovery. His descriptions of himself tend toward the hyperbolic. He was the WORST addict, the most THUGGISH white boy journ ...more
Anthony Breznican
Oct 15, 2014 Anthony Breznican rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: crime-story fans, journalists, troubled souls
"You can't know the whole truth," says David Carr. "But if there is one, it lies in the space between people."

Something haunting in that line, and relevant to anyone regardless of whether they share Carr's story of self-destruction and recovery.

This reformed thug, drug addict and spiraling loser pulls out of the dive at a critical moment, rescues his infant twin daughters (or is it the other way around?) and rebuilds a shattered career to become a columnist for The New York Times.

It's a ha
Memory, as Proust has so eloquently recounted, is a tricky thing. What we remember of an event is tinted by our own life experiences, opportunities, failures, and in no small part the exigencies of a given situation. What I remember of, say, a car accident I was in when I was 16 could be entirely different from the recollection of the driver of the car I was in, not to mention the occupants of the car that hit us. When speaking of the memories of the addict, this tendency for amnesia-fueled hist ...more
Up until reading this memoir, I only knew about David Carr through his "carpetbagger" blog on, in which Carr reports during Hollywood's awards season, and occasionally posts videos of his misadventures. What I noticed looking at the carpetbagger was the thick midwestern accent and the penchant for referring to himself in the third person ("the carpetbagger wandered into sundance.."). It would never have occurred to me that this amiable and scratchy-voiced character could have been a ...more
This book was like the addiction anti-memoir. I love how candid Carr is in his assessment of himself. He freely admits that the easy story would be that he was a generally good guy who took a couple of wrong turns and then got his life back on track. But instead, he tells the tough story: he was high, he was a jerk, he hit women, he left his twin baby girls in the car on a winter night while he went into a house to do drugs. I don't think memoir gets much more honest than this. It's a great stor ...more
This book is reporter David Carr's answer to James Frey. For Carr's "junkie memoir," instead of just recalling (or fabricating) the past, he actually visits and interviews the people he did drugs with, bought drugs from, or hurt during the 1980s while he was an addict. He interviews his lawyers, his ex-girlfriends, his counselors, and the twin daughters whose birth inspired his recovery. He hopes this tactic will help him test his own memories and discover who he really was under the influence o ...more
YES: I read this because after David Carr died I read a hundred tweets and articles about him and did not know who he was, but it seemed like I should rectify that, if belatedly.

I couldn't put this book down. It's vicious in its honesty and self-awareness. I haven't read very many addiction memoirs but it's clear that Carr was familiar with the genre and makes frequent references to common tropes. I'd imagine Carr's writing is a cut above many similar works--indeed, he essentially says that's wh
If, like me, you thought, as you read the subtitle ("A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own.") that this book would be held together by a thread of suspense about what really happened on one particular night, or during a particular period in the author's life, you, like me, will be disappointed. Carr is an excellent writer; funny, smart, wry, savvy... but this story is by and about a man who is as limited as the next guy, something he frequently admits but almost as frequ ...more
Eh, Carr rubs me the wrong way. I know, it would be irresponsible of me to judge a book by how much I like (or don't like) its author. So I'll try not to.
Carr's goal here is truth. But there is something so over-the-top and smug about using the memoir format to dig up past acquaintances and videotape them commenting on those dark days. (Carr also notes that this is uncomfortable.) Sure he digs up some useful info and reveals a lot about our own version of the truth vs. reality. But even that met
As I am reading this book currently, I have thus far learned that drugs and alcohol give you selective memory and you can be a real jerk on them.
Okay, I am crawling closer and closer to the end (I don't have as much time to read as I used to.) I hate to say it but I am now enjoying this book and beginning to kind of like David Carr.
But how did his twin daughters survive without health or behavioral issues while their mother smoked crack while pregnant? I guess my ob-gyn was right many years ago
Caitlin Constantine
I loved the concept of this book very, very much, particularly as someone who writes memoir and is constantly struggling with notions of truth and reality and memory. Carr has all of these ideas about his life as an addict, but when he goes to fact-check them, like any responsible journalist would, he finds out that his recollection is often not in line with those possessed by others. Shocking, I know, considering that it sounds like Carr did, in the words of Robin Williams in "Good Will Hunting ...more
Audacia Ray
Fuck, I loved this book.

On all layers, this was a memoir that I could really sink my teeth into (/read voraciously until done). Here's what's awesome about this book (in the precise ways that I like my memoirs, anyway):

1. Carr doesn't paint a rosy picture of himself. He was a scary coke fiend, abusive towards his girlfriends, and a royal fuckup. He doesn't pretend otherwise, he stares himself right down.

2. It consciously explores memory as a problematic thing and a living thing. And Carr has pro
Theresa Alan
I liked this book because there were a whole lot of quotable lines that made me think. It’s not exactly a page turner since you know going in how things turned out, but I like tales of people who got to ridiculous lows and then triumphed after a lot of hard work. I think one of the more important parts of his story is how much the state of Minnesota did to help him get him back on his feet, first by paying for him to get six months of treatment (after treatment had not worked for him four times ...more
It's official. In my world, in my head, the memoir has jumped the shark. Want a book deal? Do drugs and be a hot mess for a few years! Know some famous people, for good measure!

I am fascinated with drugs and the psychopharmacology aspect of how drugs affect the personality and, given that I'm a fan of memoirs, I thought I'd like this book. I guess I did at first, although I expected more...reporting, if that makes sense. The copy trumpets that this book is different than any other memoir because
I never finished it. I was not engaged. not interested and not awed by his darkness (not nearly as awed as he is).

Where Nikki Sixx droned on and on about his broken childhood and its role in his addiction, Carr refused to go near any sort of cause + effect. The book is fragmented and really more like a blog than a book because nothing ever leads to anything substantial. snippets of conversations of then badasses, now upstanding folk navel gazing about grouping around the crack pipe.

or the nigh
Donna Golden
I finished this book yesterday, on the very day I learned that David Carr died. It is disconcerting. I finished the book, although I had another 50 pages or so to go. I had tired of his narrative, his self-absorption, which by his own admission often goes hand-in-hand with drug addiction. I appreciated his story, having lived with and loved a drug addict for a long time, a life damaged by it. What I most appreciated was the realness and insight with which he related his story and the impact it h ...more
Katherine Clark
When I started reading this book, I would say for at least the first 1/3, I thought for sure it would be a 5 star read, and one of the best books I've read this year. It is an interesting book. Carr writes about his twin selves: that of a driven journalist and a drug addict/alcoholic. The drug memoir isn't something that particularly interests me (which is why the final 2/3 of the book wasn't that interesting) but Carr is also interested in how memory works and how memory fashions stories we con ...more
Kathy Cohen
A couple of branches of my family tree are so blighted by addiction that an arborist would probably mark it with a big X and have someone cut it down. As a result, I've read a great deal about drug and alcohol dependence. I can say if there's been a memoir written in the last couple of decades from the perspective of an addict or his loved one, I've probably read it. And there are a lot of them.

Which leads me to David Carr's book, “The Night of the Gun.” Did the world really need another memoir
Normally I'm not much of a fan of addiction memoirs, but dammit if David Carr wasn't charming, and this memoir is as well. We go through a very dark journey with Carr as he reports out some of the most difficult parts of his life. In some ways, it's almost unbelievable how much he partied, how many drugs he did, and how horribly he struggled to keep a day job. But this is, after all, the memoir of a white man in America, and Carr's career worked out incredibly well for him in the end.

Perhaps th
I admire Carr a lot as a journalist, but as a memoirist, he stinks. The idea of fact-checking your past is great, and his results unsurprisingly confirm that our memories are unreliable reconstructions. But he's not content to let the reader come to that conclusion on their own, he beats you over the head with it for chapters at a time.

Despite his rigorous fact-checking, he emerges as a completely unreliable narrator of anything that can't be sourced. All the women he's ever slept with are "gor
Connie  Kuntz
Feb 12, 2015 Connie Kuntz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are trying to be less judgmental
Recommended to Connie by: My Mom
Because of his drug addiction and memory lapses, David Carr forgot several years of his life. Determined to learn and face the truth, he purchased some digital recording devices and interviewed the people (from ALL circles) in his life who remembered (or manufactured their own memories of) David Carr. David Carr, to be blunt, behaved despicably. That is not my judgement, that is an ugly fact about someone who snorted coke, hit women and treated his family like crap. But all that aside, this is a ...more
Rita Meade
I had the sense, upon finishing this book, that I had just been manipulated by a smooth-talking master deceiver. I can't pinpoint exactly what made me feel this way...maybe it was Carr's tendency to bluntly and openly dissect his own faults in such a way that he elicits pity from the reader while desperately asking that you don't pity him. Or maybe it was the metawriting that he injected into many of the chapters - there was a sense at times that he was deriding the addiction memoir genre in ord ...more
This book presents a rare quandary - an egregiously self-indulgent memoir written by an insufferable bore who is self-aware of his tremendous human failings and of the unmitigated self obsession this kind of book project suggests.

This addiction memoir carries an uncomfortable whiff of the self-aggrandizing, "look at how bad I really became" backed up against the heights of true success Carr has attained for himself as a columnist for the New York Times.

The journalistic gimmick at play here is
Mike Van Campen
When I first read about this book I thought: Do we really need another book about an individual's battle with drugs and alcohol? It seems that every month there is a new addict memoir. What intrigued me about Carr's book was his technique, a clear reaction to the scandal surrounding James Frey's memoir exposed as addiction fiction. Carr decides to use his journalism skills to investigate his life as an addict. He does research reading police reports, news articles, letters, diaries, etc. and con ...more
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David Carr was a journalist who wrote for The New York Times. His peers often praised him for his humility and candor.

Carr overcame an addiction to cocaine and wrote about his experiences as an addict in The Night of the Gun. The New Yorker called it "bracingly honest memoir. In sharp and sometimes poetic prose, the author takes a detailed inventory of his years of drug addiction."

In February, 20
More about David Carr...
The Promise of Cultural Institutions The Digitally Divided Self: Relinquishing our Awareness to the Internet Open Conversations: Public Learning in Libraries and Museums A Place Not a Place: Reflection and Possibility in Museums and Libraries The Paradox of Subjectivity: The Self in the Transcendental Tradition

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“I now inhabit a life I don't deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn't end any time soon” 16 likes
“As I sit today, I am a genuine, often pleasant person. I am able to imitate a human being for long spurts of time, do solid work for a reputable organization, and have, over the breadth of time, proven to be an attentive father and husband. So how to reconcile my past with my current circumstances? Drugs, it seems to me, do not conjure demons, they access them. Was I faking it then, or am I faking it now? Which, you might ask, of my two selves did I make up?” 9 likes
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