Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder” as Want to Read:
The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  1,809 Ratings  ·  244 Reviews
In this groundbreaking memoir, Stephen Elliott pursues parallel investigations: a gripping account of a notorious San Francisco murder trial, and an electric exploration of the self. Destined to be a classic, The Adderall Diaries was described by The Washington Post as "a serious literary work designed to make you see the world as you've never quite seen it before."
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Graywolf Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Anita Dalton
I don’t intend to demean the power of the addiction or sexual discovery narrative, and I don’t want to demean those who may have found something relevant in Elliott’s narrative. And I fully admit that I may have missed something because I have not read any of Elliott’s other works. I wonder if I would have cared more if I had read his other books. But the fact remains that I did not care much about this book. The narrative was flat and uninvolved. The addiction barely registered as being damagin ...more
Aug 29, 2009 jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is quite a feat of love and a feat of pain and a feat of endurance. elliott starts off with a bad case of writer's block. then something comes up, a dude who just confessed to having killed more than eight people (eight and a half) and another dude, dude #1's friend, who's been arrested for having killed his ex-wife. elliott thinks these two stories are his ticket out of writer's block.

elliott is also putting into himself ever more generous quantities of adderall, a synthetic amphetam
Aurelia D'andrea
By page 40 I was annoyed by the number of typos; OK, so that's a minor issue. Or is it? Maybe it's a sign of the complete lack of care that went into this book. I don't know -- there's so much hype about this guy, and at the halfway point in this book, I'm not finding him to be all that fantastic of a writer/thinker/story teller. He's just a weirdo who's had some lucky breaks (and some not-so-lucky breaks). I mean, just becuase you tell us that you like having your nipples pinched until they ble ...more
Jun 30, 2009 Oriana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Oriana by: everyone
Shelves: read-2010
after: Okay, here's another quicky book review. This is a weird, rambly, disjointed book. Right before I started it, I signed up for the Rumpus email list, and if you've never read it, it's a daily dose of Stephen Elliott's weird, rambly, disjointed musings. So I pretty much knew what I was getting into with this. It wasn't bad or anything, and Elliott is a pretty interesting, pretty fucked up guy, whose head is an interesting place to muddle around in for a little while. The book is kind of a h ...more
Nov 29, 2009 Imogen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, first of all, Nine did a really good job with this book:

The stupid story about me and this book is that, y'know the thing where folks were passing around advance copies of it? Stephen Elliott sent advance copies to folks, who got to keep it for a week, then would forward it on to someone else. What a great idea, right? Except I had had it for three days when I lost my copy. I think it probably fell out of my girlfriend's car somewhere up near Rockri
Is it weird to declare a memoir too self-absorbed?

For a book that promises S&M, murder, and drug addiction, this was one of the flattest pieces of writing I've read in a long time. Elliot is neither particularly likable or loathsome. He's just there, rambling in this disorganized style with seemingly little effort built into developing a compelling narrative. I put it down after I skimmed the entire third chapter for something of interest and came up short.
Aug 27, 2009 Nine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(This review - or whatever it should be called - was originally written for The Skinny magazine in Scotland)

Stephen Elliott is hooked on Adderall. It’s basically speed in a capsule, prescribed by his psychiatrist. He takes too much; sometimes he opens up the capsules and snorts the powder. Sometimes he feels suicidal. He lives in San Francisco and has a string of often undefined, blurry relationships with women. Sometimes they tie him up, beat him, cut him.

He thinks back to his youth as a runawa
Stephen Elliot is definitely Stephen Elliott's favorite subject, but that's ok, b/c he's really interesting. There's a lot I found fascinating about him: His constant seeking of SM relationships, yet not considering himself a "lifestyle player." His recollections of favorite scenes featuring play piercing, heavy floggings and canings, and his non-identification as a "heavy player." His background, similar to my own, which must have endeared him to me, and made me devour this book, somehow fitti ...more
Aug 26, 2009 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing accomplishment by Steve Elliott: to weave together examinations of himself and his history, to use the framework of the Hans Reiser trial as "permission" to analyze his writer's block, his Adderall habit, and his relationship with his father. And somehow while juggling all these narrative threads, he leads the reader on a cohesive journey.

Jun 04, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: legion-of-vermin
Pay close attention to the title/subtitle. The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder. Well which is it: diary or memoir? The answer is tricky. Elliot doesn't do "or." Everything about him is multiple. It's a diary in the sense that it covers a very specific period of the author's life, but rendered in the style of a memoir where the relevant storylines are fleshed out in a highly disgressive manner. (The frame of the book is time-bound, the story is not.) I guess you could c ...more
Caitlin Constantine
It occurred to me as I read this book that I had read something very similar a few months ago, a memoir called Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams. Granted, there are obvious differences. Elliott is a masochistic drug addict in San Francisco while Williams is a Mormon naturalist in Utah. Yet they both managed to write very similar stories, ones in which they used these high-profile events outside of themselves to help them make sense of their relationships with their parents, their families and the ...more
Sean Owen
Nov 19, 2014 Sean Owen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The Adderall Diaries is a mix of memoir and true crime. The author Stephen Elliott has a troubled history of drugs and abuse. Hans Reiser is accused of murdering his wife Nina who had left him for Sean Sturgeon. Elliott peripherally knows Sturgeon through the San Francisco BDSM underground. There is no body, but all sorts of evidence points to murder by Hans. Sturgeon confesses to murdering 8 people whom he refuses to name, though Nina is not one of them. This complicated mess linking the emerge ...more
Feb 14, 2011 Kalen rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011-reads
** 1/2

I've been known to say that I'm not wild about memoir, and when I say that, this book is what I mean. The saving grace here was the interweaving of Hans Reiser's murder trial--the most interesting parts of the book. Elliott *is* a good writer and a good storyteller but I'm not shocked (and I *think* that's the goal...?) by his stories of parental abuse, drug use, and masochism. Nor are those stories particularly unique. (I don't mean to dismiss Elliott's pain and struggles--I just don't k
Aug 07, 2009 P. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic
As I noted in my review of Happy Baby, I read this book and that one in an overlapping fashion. Happy Baby is a fictional account of some of the same memories that Elliott presents here as memoir (I'm not doubting them but I don't really know how to phrase that). Which made it kind of like I had two Stephen Elliotts telling me the same story in different ways, simultaneously.

The Adderall Diaries is a different treatment of true crime, or at least most true crime I've read, in that it doesn't pr
Feb 03, 2010 Alana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In late January of 2010, I attended a function at 826NYC in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Stephen Elliott's book, The Adderall Diaries had been published in September and this would be part reading, part memoir workshop. It was held on a Wednesday night in the back room at 826, behind the darkened Superhero Supply Store and in the brighter light of the tutoring center. I confess that I had no memoir-writing aspirations; I went mostly because Steve is a friend of mine. I try to attend his New York readin ...more
Oct 13, 2014 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, ebooks
There are at least three distinctive parts to this exciting and fascinating book: "The Adderall Diaries" authored by Steven Elliot. This is part memoir, a true-crime expose, and literary and medical criticism/essay. The Adderall Diaries will also be featured soon as a major commercial film presentation.

Steven Elliot was from Chicago, where his Cambodian father settled after immigrating, his mother died a premature death from MS (multiple sclerosis), leaving his father a young widower. He soon re
Mar 20, 2016 Fran rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

this is a weird one for me. from the moment i started reading i knew i would finish it, but it took me much longer than a book of this length normally would. i think i like Elliott's voice, but i just didn't love what he was using that voice to write about. which is a tough thing to say when you're talking about memoir - hard to judge someone writing about themselves - but there was just a discomfort in the way it all came together that prevented me from ever really digging in and enjoying t
The Adderall Diaries is an outstanding memoir and certainly one of the best I have ever read. Author and essayist, Stephen Elliott originally set out to write a true crime book focusing on the infamous trial of Hans Reiser, a brilliant computer programmer accused of murdering his wife.

Stephen Elliot hopes to overcome the numbing writer’s block that has been obstructing his work. Instead of a mere crime book, suggested by a publisher, he produces a work so violently profound it will change the w
Nicola Waldron
I didn't love this -- the prose is journalistic, which shouldn't come as a surprise since that's what Elliott does, but the subject matter is at times so intimate that this reader felt jolted between registers. I wanted to care more for the narrator than I did, and felt it was something to do with access -- or else, I suspected the worst, which is that Elliott's experiences are so damaging as to be irredeemable. I suppose it's hard to write about self-harm and underground sex without sounding se ...more
River Laker
Mar 23, 2013 River Laker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With a title that includes Adderall, the drug derived from the "mother's little helper" of years back, and prescribed to millions, this book was guaranteed at least an initial glance. But that one glance is all that's needed to discover this is no self help book for those held under Adderall's sway.

Loosely framed around a real life seedy San Francisco murder trial the author is covering for a nationwide TV network, this book emerges as a brave, unsettling, bizarre, sad and honest memoir of a typ
Ben Fleck
Mar 21, 2016 Ben Fleck rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Okay... this book was just all over the place and weird and unrelatable and I just didn't know what to believe or care about. It's a "true crime memoir" but what in good god is actually true about it?

It is a "memoir" so it's mostly that author just talking about his life, his desires, his fears, his day-to-day activities, his many relationships, and his jobs and problems. I would care more if it was relatable, but it just wasn't for me. It was just too ridiculous. I like reading things that I d
Andrew Gray
I read this book very fast because the first 100 pages really held my interest. However, I lost momentum in the second half. A problem for me is the way Stephen Elliott paints himself as an adderall addict; yet, he uses such tiny amounts. At his heaviest Elliott describes taking 25 mg. a day. My boyfriend has been taking 30 mg. of extended release adderall every morning for the past six years. My boyfriend leads an extremely conventional life; he is no strung out writer getting tied up and whipp ...more
Sep 20, 2009 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am reading Adderall Diaries for the second time; I was one of the 400 or so readers who read the advance copy before release.

This book covers the period after the 2004 election, and Stephen has writer's block. He intertwines a family fable about a man his father may have killed, with an actual SF murder case he follows. Add to the mix that yet another man claims to have murdered eight people but wont say who they are - just that they deserved it. It is difficult to discern fact from fantasy on
May 14, 2009 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update: Passages from this book haunt me at odd moments, so I upgraded it to five stars. This one will stay with you.

I read this book slowly in order to savor it. Elliott is one of my favorite authors (and an amusing person to follow on Twitter). The murder case that the book is supposed to be about only provides about 1/3 of the content. The rest is autobiographical material from Elliott, who is more interesting than most any fictional character (for starters, he lived on the street starting at
Pan. Elliott attempted to write a meaningful look into the sordid details of his addiction, his violent sex life, his traumatic past, and murder in middle America, but instead he wrote an untethered, unfocused, disjointed ramble which sounded like a process with no result. True, he does achieve his form of conclusion, of thesis, towards the end, but it wasn't enough to make the book worth it (or to pull it together). It was surprisingly boring for a book about such interesting subject matters.
Mar 28, 2010 Pauline rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author of this book had a horrible childhood. He became a writer and got interested in a murder trial. There's not much introspection or analysis of the horrible childhood and the murder trial kind of gets left in the dust, and there's not much intertwining of the two. I'm not sure what the point of this book ends up being so it felt superficial to me.
May 25, 2009 lola rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Got this as part of an advanced reading contest thing from the Rumpus and ate it up for real. Can't wait to see it come out.
Chris Estey
Jul 13, 2009 Chris Estey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This guy kicks so much ass. Review soon at KEXP Blog.
Oct 15, 2009 Caty rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The most boring, self-indulgent piece of crap I've read in a while. Why do brilliant people I know love this author? Perhaps I should look into his earlier work?
Dawn Wells
Really liked the concept of this book. However, it was written pretty loosely and bad editing. Some very interesting complexities and to be fair some good writing.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Ticking Is the Bomb: A Memoir
  • Legs Get Led Astray
  • Permanent Midnight
  • We Did Porn
  • Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia
  • Mentor: A Memoir
  • You Must Be This Happy to Enter
  • The Chronology of Water
  • Happy
  • Mean Little Deaf Queer
  • Reality Hunger: A Manifesto
  • Gonville: A Memoir
  • The Double Life is Twice as Good
  • Final Vision: The Last Word on Jeffrey MacDonald
  • 501 Minutes to Christ: Personal Essays
  • Spent
  • My Awesome Place: Autobiography of Cheryl Burke
  • Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners
Stephen Elliott is the author of seven books including Happy Baby, a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award, as well as a Best Book of 2004 in, Newsday, Chicago New City, Journal News, and Village Voice. Elliott's writing has been featured in Esquire, The New York Times, GQ, Best American Non-Required Reading 2005 & 2007, Best American Erotica, and Best Sex Writ ...more
More about Stephen Elliott...

Share This Book

“A stranger can see in an instant something in you that you might spend years learning about yourself. How awful we all are when we look at ourselves under a light, finally seeing our reflections. How little we know about ourselves. How much forgiveness it must take to love a person, to choose not to see their flaws, or to see those flaws and love the person anyway. If you never forgive you’ll always be alone.” 26 likes
“How awful we are all when we look at ourselves under a light, finally seeing our reflections+. How little we know about ourselves. How much forgivennes it must take to love a person , to choose not to see their flaws, or to see those flaws and love the person anyway. If you never forgive you'll always be alone.” 12 likes
More quotes…