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The Night of the Gun

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  6,433 ratings  ·  885 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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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  6,433 ratings  ·  885 reviews

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Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
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 intelligent
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-story, 2012, own
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. So here is an admission: I have been in rehab too. Not f
Paul E. Morph
Early on in this book, Carr asks whether the world needs another ‘drug memoir’. I can’t speak for the world, but this is probably only the third such book I’ve read so I, for one, aren’t burnt out on them yet.

I found this book quite engaging. I’ve had my own problems with what we euphemistically call ‘substances’ so I can empathise with a lot of it and sympathise with the rest. Yes, Carr did some absolutely horrifying stuff under the influence of drugs. While I’ve never been in his league, I’ve
Sep 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Patrick O'Neil
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Dec 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
I bought this in an Audible sale a few months ago given that it sounded a little like Bill Clegg's memoirs, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir and Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery, both of which I had been fascinated by. It was only on closer inspection just before I started listening, that I realise that David Carr was the same journalist with whom I'd been extremely impressed by while watching the 2011 documentary, 'Page One: Inside the New York Times', when his previous addiction ...more
Aug 04, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the concept of this book, the idea of using journalistic methods to really explore the truth in an addiction memoir. I found the book repetitive, the great revelation of "the night of the gun" and the truth that is uncovered is at the very beginning of the book. Much of the rest feels like a restatement of this central point. I also found Carr dislikable, though not because of what he did as an addict. I did appreciate Carr's honesty in admitting to things that even most addiction memoir ...more
Nov 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009, unfinished
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
Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
2.5 I think. It was alright. I don't want to say anything bad about someone's personal story it's just that I thought the book was a bit too long. The thing that kept me most interested is that 3/4 of the book is set in Minneapolis where I live. ...more
Eve Tushnet
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best "recovery" memoir I've read, and probably the most helpful thing I read while I was really struggling with sobriety. Carr's specific experiences were very different from mine, but that only made the emotional resonances more shocking. He completely captures what it feels like to lie to yourself and sort of know that you're doing it, and the way dishonesty slowly reshapes every aspect of your life.

It's more than that, though. The whole structure of the book makes it an exercise in hones
David Carr was one of seven children born into a middle class family in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was always rather rebellious, and began taking drugs when he was still a teenager in high school. In The Night of the Gun, Carr traces his slow but steady descent into into the hellish world of addiction. He became a hard core crack cocaine addict, an abusive boyfriend, and an overweight, unemployed journalist. His behavior landed him in jail on numerous occasions. When his long time crack ...more
Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Audacia Ray
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing

"To be an addict is to be something of a cognitive acrobat. Youspread versions of yourself around, giving each person the truth he orshe needs—you need, actually—to keep them at one remove. How,then, to reassemble that montage of deceit into a truthful past?"

It’s never easy to read the account of someone falling apart in front of your eyes from alcohol or drug addiction. While there is a glut of recovery memoirs that have flooded the publishing industry, and even spawned its own genre, there i
I got to about chapter 5. It was like it was all prologue -- he just kept talking about memory and writing, and his process. Just tell the damn story already.
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Caitlin Constantine
Feb 17, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, audiobooks

“Memories are like that. They live between synapses and between the people who hold them. Memories, even epic ones, are perishable from their very formation even in people who don't soak their brains in mood-altering chemicals. There is only so much space on any one person's hard drive, and old memories are prone to replacement by newer ones.” 

“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 ti
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this book by accident, but accidents happen and sometimes for a reason. This memoir is excellent. Yes, its a story of a very successful NY Times reporters harrowing life of addiction and eventual recovery, but it's really an investigative search for the truth of the ever changing narrative of our past and the stories we tell ourselves so that we can live with ourselves. A book i will try to remember. One paragraph looms larger than all and needs to be shared.

"Even if i had amazing recall,
Lou Stellato
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Ugh I swore I'd never read another drug addict memoir and then I stupidly try again. Mixed in with the horror stories and regret is a great big stinking pile of "aww, but wasn't I cool and dangerous and dirty and what a time we had and weren't we rebels and those were the days and we were so fucked up but we lived to tell the tale" and then he ended up a big success. What a lesson. Boring self indulgent and annoying. Imagine if food addicts wrote memoirs with the same degree of bravado about the ...more
Jun 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
Okay, besides the methodology, which is neat for a little bit, this book SUCKS. Pretentious epigraphs (from fucking Milton? REALLY?), recapitulating the old tired tropes of the supposed pathology of addiction while going through the pretense of supposedly being self-aware enough to deconstruct it, light sprinklings of whoraphobia (one of the Rules is not to fetch strippers tacos), and consistently mediocre writing.
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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."

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58 likes · 12 comments
“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” 30 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?” 12 likes
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