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The Night of the Gun

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  2,378 ratings  ·  448 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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christa
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
Raven
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...more
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
Christina
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.
rachel
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, but I do. So here is my admission: the hospital I mentioned in a previous re...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...more
Ashley
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
Chloe
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
Anne
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
Diane
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
Cynthia
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...more
Anastacia
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...more
Rachael
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
Kate
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
Marti
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...more
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
Kid
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...more
Paula
Up until reading this memoir, I only knew about David Carr through his "carpetbagger" blog on NYTimes.com, 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
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
Ruzz
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...more
Michael
Interesting approach to memoir, fantastically dull execution. Carr, a reformed drug abuser and party boy, use his reportorial techniques (interviewing primary sources and witnesses, contrasting accounts to find holes, and so forth) to dig back twenty or so years into his past. In theory, he's trying to understand who he was back then and the terrible things he did, much of which is obscured by the haze of the binges he'd gone on. But really, though he gives a lot of lip service to those things h...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...more
Ryan
It's tough to find many detriments to this story, a tale of drug/alcohol addiction then redemption then relapse then a form of redemption again. However, I couldn't help but find the stories tiresome after a while: the domestic violence, cancer, deaths, trouble with the law. It's a memoir of sorts, where David Carr (of New York Times fame) interviews and records dozens of people throughout his drug-fueled history, starting with a night involving a gun that sets in motion thoughts on how unreliab...more
Katherine
If nothing else, The Night of the Gun should be praised for bringing journalistic integrity to the addiction memoir. (I'm sure I read that quote somewhere.) David Carr, a former crack addict who somehow managed to string together a career as an investigative reporter, realized he couldn't rely on his memory of events once he started interviewing former friends, ex-girlfriends, parole officers and lawyers from his dope-shooting days. Carr had stuck to the story of his addiction and recovery for a...more
Caroline
This book starts out as a riveting investigative portrait of an addict's life, told by the addict, with the supposed "new twist" being that he uses his own rigorous journalistic techniques to fact-check his recollections. Memories he though were irrefutable turn out to be all-too-refutable by his friends and family as he digs through his messy past to try to discover the "truth" about what really happened in his chaotic life.

Carr actually maintains for quite a while this atmosphere of strict ac...more
Nina
This is an incredible story! David (who now writes for the New York Times) was a crack addict, writing for various local publications. He is a talented writer, a father, a husband, and happens to be my step-brother-in-law. This book is not just purely autobiographical - David undertakes the difficult task of interviewing everyone who was in his life during his addiction and records the events with respect to their perspective, adding his own memories, which are minimal at times. His tone is very...more
Andrew McMillen
The premise for this memoir is cute: rather than the familiar stylistic trope of allowing the book to be driven by a single, often unreliable narrator who'll inevitably sharpen their strengths and downplay their flaws, New York Times journalist David Carr puts in the effort to track down and interview significant figures in his past, to see whether they can put the record straight. Carr was addicted to cocaine and alcohol earlier in his life, so his memory is even less reliable the average autob...more
Wendy
I was curious about this because it sets out to be different from other memoirs by eschewing dialogue that no one could reasonably remember, using interviews from other people who were there, and fact-checking everything possible. Since I feel special loathing for memoirs that are made-up in whole or in part, and I'm interested when I discover my own memories are unreliable, I liked that aspect. But actually, even though he tried to make this memoir completely trustworthy while acknowledging pos...more
Zachary

Brutally honest, this is a harrowing, gripping, and fantastically written memoir of a man with great talent and determination, as well as terrible demons. It is a minor miracle that David Carr is alive. A cocaine addict for many years who graduated to crack, he eventually hit bottom, and worked his way back out, slowly putting himself back together and remaking himself into a decent, functional human being while being the single parent to twin girls. There is a lot in this book to make one squir...more
Laura
NYT writer investigates his drug-addled past, raising meta-questions about the nature of truth and memoir. Great book as long as he stayed on the theme of overcoming addiction; once safely back in the world, it verges on name-dropping and narcissism. Interviewing the wife and current boss? Not the same as the interviews with the druggies of the past.
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“End-stage addiction is mostly about waiting for the police, or someone, to come and bury you in your shame.” 7 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?” 6 likes
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