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

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  1,370 ratings  ·  224 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
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jo
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
...more
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
Imogen
Okay, first of all, Nine did a really good job with this book:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

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
...more
oriana
Dec 05, 2010 oriana rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Nine
(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
...more
Joshua
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.

Logan
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
Kalen
** 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
...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
Jim
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
Tessa
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
...more
Karen
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.
Michelle
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
...more
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
Todd
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
...more
River Laker
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
...more
Alana
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
Ellen
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
...more
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
Amy
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
...more
Kate
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.
Alan
I'm a big fan of Stephen Elliott's Rumpus Web site (especially his "Letters in the Mail" feature where you get real letters in mail - ask your parents if you're too young to remember such things). I also really enjoy Stephen's emails and the writers he champions, but I've never read any of his books. The style was very familiar and if the sign of a great book is that it makes you think about those aspects of life we ignore (truth, friendship, memory, etc.) that get ignored (mostly due to life it ...more
lola
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.
Kaitlin
James Franco summer book club book. super interesting memoir/true crime story about the author with an adderall addiction and severe depression as he follows a murder case. Particularly introspective. Kind of rambly. Apparently going to be a movie soon?
quotes:
"There are facts, but we can present them in any order we want."
"I had a fantastic sense of self preservation but it had left me for a while."
"You have an opportunity to be a better person than you have been in the past and people are watch
...more
Chris Estey
This guy kicks so much ass. Review soon at KEXP Blog.
William Wenge-Murphy
The prose is extremely flat. It reads like it was written by a depressed gu- Oh, right.

I saw mention of Hans Reiser killing his wife on the cover flap and that caught my eye. I was hoping it would be heavy on the true crime aspect and I'd learn a lot about this incident I'd vaguely heard about in the *nix world, but unfortunately not. There's not much meat here, and what information it does contain could be learned skimming online.

On the plus side there are a few parts that made me laugh out lou
...more
Claire M.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joyce
This book surprised me. Mostly because the writer is kind of screwed up, but extremely talented. You know how some writers seem to have accomplishments, gripping inner goodness and mountains of desirable assets? Not this guy. At least it appears he's quite honest about his interests, SM & drugs among other things. What is hugely engaging is his telling: of his life as well as the events surrounding the murder of a local woman, possibly by someone he knows. Massively readable.

Summary: In the
...more
Jeremy


A handful of parts in this book really annoyed me. For example, only in San Francisco would this be the worst possible insult: “I hear you’re emotionally dishonest.” But in the book the author is accused of this by someone he’s attempting to interview, as if it’s a dagger to the heart.

Also, the author offers juvenile and nonsensical explanations for our actions in Iraq that would be better off staying in his head: “We were taking our revenge. Revenge for what? They rejected us, that’s what. We
...more
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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 Salon.com, 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...
Happy Baby My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up A Life Without Consequences Where to Invade Next Looking Forward to It: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the American Electoral Process

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“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.” 15 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.” 9 likes
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