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4.51  ·  Rating Details ·  105 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
"To the short list of genuinely great addiction memoirs we can now add Sirens, a searing and at times hilarious account of Mohr's lost years in the dive bars and gutters of San Francisco. Like Mary Karr and Jerry Stahl, there is no line Mohr won't cross, either in his erstwhile quest for self-immolation, or his fearless honesty in reporting back from that time. But what se ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 17th 2017 by Two Dollar Radio
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Those who know me know that I don't typically go in for non-fiction or memoir but this is Joshua Fucking Mohr, one of my major small press author crushes.

Being asked to read Sirens was like being given a backstage pass into Mohr's mind - how could I turn down the opportunity to roam freely inside his head as he breaks down his long and complicated relationship with drugs and alcohol?

This is not just a story of recovery, but one of acknowledging that the demons never die. And of celebrating eve
Patrick O'Neil
Oct 31, 2016 Patrick O'Neil rated it it was amazing
The long journey of conducting a life of debauchery from every barstool in SF’s Mission District to trying to get clean and sober, relapsing, tremulous relationships, fathering a child, and a heart-attack—this book is a heavy emotional rollercoaster ride of harsh realities amid the consequences of the recovering alcoholic’s life. Josh Mohr’s Sirens ushers in a new generation of addiction/recovery memoirs—do yourself a favor and read this book!
Dec 04, 2016 Craig rated it it was amazing
You knew that Joshua Mohr had spent time in bars after reading any of his previous work, but how bad was it exactly?

Here you get the confessions of a young man addicted to chaos who found his logodadelus and emerged from the wreckage. The structure of his telling will remind you of that time in your own life, too, if you've indeed moved on from it and found new addictions like the joy in your daughter's laughter, love reflected in your partner's eyes, and solidarity in a literary community or a
Dec 01, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
Very intense. Examines addiction plus the perils of toxic masculinity. The prose itself has a bloody quality to it. Like it's the stuff in your veins, in your soul. Poetics in every paragraph and the pacing just goes, goes, goes. The siren metaphor is never strained. It combines classical themes with hard-edged realism. I will warn people: some parts are heartbreaking. Mohr reminiscing about his alcoholism can wither your soul a bit. It makes one wonder what we have to do to change our hearts to ...more
Robert Vaughan
Jan 30, 2017 Robert Vaughan rated it it was amazing
Sirens was among the books I most looked forward to read, and it did not disappoint. All the more because it is memoir, and I imagine the toughest sort of writing to produce. Inventive, emotional, heartfelt. A page turner.
Adam Rodenberger
Apr 15, 2017 Adam Rodenberger rated it it was amazing
To be clear, I know Josh as he was the last professor I had for workshop at USF.

Having said that, I've enjoyed all his books thus far. They've all been easy reads, which is not to say they are simple. While all his books contain a raw nature to the prose, I feel like this one has the most teeth because it is the most true of all of them.

There are a lot of mirrored moments here that accurately portray much of my own 20s in Kansas City. Maybe that's why this one stuck so easily in my craw. I'm s
Tricia Friedman
Apr 23, 2017 Tricia Friedman rated it it was amazing
The horrors of addiction tapered only by the poetry in this memoir. Mohr intertwines insight with anecdote with philosophical questions. A tenderly constructed time capsule of a man questioning his worth.
Gail Ansel
Dec 30, 2016 Gail Ansel rated it it was amazing
Holy cow. Just this afternoon I finished the great Josh memoir and my husband and I spent dinner talking about parents and kids and perceptions and transformation and forgiveness. Holy shit.

The thing that's so amazing (well, one of the things) is the subtlety. Of composition and of complex thought processes and an emotional journey and language and, and, and. Wow.

I thought I'd come out of it with a better understanding of a close family member, who overdosed (for the 10th? 15th? time) at 35 and
Jabiz Raisdana
Jan 06, 2017 Jabiz Raisdana rated it it was amazing
This is a harrowing terrifying look at addiction and the ultimate redemptive qualities of hope and fatherhood.

Mohr is in his element with the language of this memoir. There are no boring accounts of events. What Mohr does instead is use his provocative and image rich prose to bring his scenes to life. The tales he recounts are powerful metaphors drenches in emotions.

This is a must read for anyone who is a fan of Mohr's work, but also for readers in search of why and how we can fall so far away
Dec 24, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Joshua Mohr's "Sirens" should come with a warning label. Smart, beautiful, gritty, Mohr's memoir of substance abuse, recovery and relapse will shatter you with its honesty.

Mohr's prose has a corporeal presence, and you read it with your whole body, rather than just your mind. Which makes his openness about the fragility of his own recovery feel incisive. It points to a greater truth about mortality we may recoil from, but should allow ourselves to feel.
Jan 04, 2017 Jim rated it it was amazing
Sirens is many things: a brutally honest and stridently original approach to the addiction memoir; a love song to a San Francisco that doesn't exist any more; a coming of age story with Fernet and special K. But if you've ever thought about crossing over to the sunny side of the street, Sirens is essential reading.
Lauren Sapala
May 18, 2017 Lauren Sapala rated it it was amazing
This book gutted me on a lot of levels. It’s very possibly the most beautiful book I’ve read in the last couple of years. I found myself in so many of the stories Mohr shared—being an addict/alcoholic, being a writer, being the parent of a small child (and a parent who finds that situation frequently challenging), being a struggling artist in San Francisco. I felt like I gave a huge sigh of relief as I read every single section. OMG, I’m not alone! Someone else has gone through these things and ...more
Jan 04, 2017 Simone rated it it was amazing
Four times last night I tried to put down Sirens to fall asleep. I lay awake in the dark, my pulse a notch too fast, thoughts racing. I passed midnight, then 2AM, flicking the bedside lamp back on, haunted by curiosity of what would happen next.

I found myself rooting for a husband and father whose actions at times appalled me. I could taste the acrid nasal drip; hear his infant daughter's screams.

Thank you for your honesty, humility, for sparing no detail. It was a wild ride.
Jan 10, 2017 Amanda rated it really liked it
I feel weird recommending this book, and yet I do so, wholeheartedly. Why? To whom would I suggest it? I wouldn't wave this kind of soul-baring at just anyone because, as sharp and compelling and artful as the writing is, it's also at times (as it damn well should be) difficult and wrenching and frustrating. All I can say is, this account feels true. It FEELS true, and that's important to me. I reach for books like this not infrequently because I've lost people I loved so much to addiction. Ouch ...more
Emily Vajda
Mar 06, 2017 Emily Vajda rated it it was amazing
Startlingly honest. Joshua Mohr cracks open his heart and allows the reader to explore inside. Each sentence is a lesson in style for other writers and I read SIRENS, studied SIRENS, as though I were back in Joshua's classroom. Simply put, SIRENS is stunning.
Ryan Bradford
Feb 16, 2017 Ryan Bradford rated it really liked it
Blew through this one. It hits hard.
Heather Scott Partington
Feb 07, 2017 Heather Scott Partington rated it really liked it
"I'm glad I embarrassed myself all those nights,” author Joshua Mohr (All This Life, 2016) writes at the beginning of his rich and fragmented addiction memoir, Sirens, “because I learned what shame was.” Mohr’s life in San Francisco’s Mission District reels with lyrical and enthusiastic drug use until parenting and a health scare inspire his sobriety. Though he had long endeavored to block addiction’s siren song, seeing his daughter in peril cuts away his pretense and sends him from temptation. ...more
Kane Bergstrom
Feb 02, 2017 Kane Bergstrom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
From the beginning to the end, the author slowly peels back layers of his skin and walks around naked in plain sight. Through stories of his past and stories of his present, he allows us into his everyday struggles and struggle. Friendship, love, parenthood, and addiction swarm the pages with brilliant prose, metaphors, similes, and analogies. This is the type of book I could read again and again when I just need somebody to talk to.
Kevin Porter
Mar 19, 2017 Kevin Porter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
100% worth the read

As a previous student of Josh Mohr at USF, I was excited to read this book. It was my first of his and didn't disappoint. His honesty gives insight to who he is as a teacher and as a human being- it's truly refreshing and inspiring
Jan 11, 2017 Hosho rated it it was amazing
Josh cuts his heart wide open, and shows you how flawed it flawed all our hearts are, and how mostly we're all just doing our best in this bear-hug of a memoir. Equal parts cautionary tale and recovery yarn -- all of it splendidly done with a novelist's eye for heartbreak and redemption -- Sirens does what a good memoir should: it makes everyone more human to us. This is a damn good memoir from a damn good man.
Bridget Quinn
Nov 20, 2016 Bridget Quinn rated it it was amazing
Harrowing and hopeful, Sirens is a great read in every sense. A terrifying tale, beautifully told. It's the story of a former addict with a hole in his heart - no, really - who somehow finds a way to fill it with meaning. Mohr's story has no cheap fixes or unearned epiphanies, and it soars.
"Do I want to end up alone and alcoholic?
No of course not.
Yes, of course."
Tough stuff. Reality. And reality is weird; also sometimes lovely. And Mohr's prose is always, always true.
Pam Dunn
Jan 23, 2017 Pam Dunn rated it it was amazing
This memoir spoke to my heart about why we as human beings do the crazy things we do that make us lose the very things most important to us. Ulysses' desire to hear the Sirens provides a great theme that Joshua builds on. This is a the voice of a gifted writer speaking about drug addiction, recovery, and the importance of love.
Calder G. G.
Jan 08, 2017 Calder G. G. rated it it was amazing
Raw, real, and redemptive, Sirens is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. The prose is scorching and the story will leave you wanting to hug yourself and anyone else in the general vicinity. Mohr's is a life lived and nothing should stop you from reading this book.
Paula Guinto
Feb 05, 2017 Paula Guinto rated it it was amazing
Loved this. Every word.
Nov 06, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing
Sirens is hard to put down—the pace is so engaging, the narrator so charming, and the prose so thoughtful. It stretches the boundaries of what memoir can be.
Joseph Haeger
Jan 06, 2017 Joseph Haeger rated it it was amazing
Oh man, Sirens by Joshua Mohr needs to be required reading. It is brutal, honest, and necessary.

Oct 30, 2016 Jill rated it it was amazing
This book, like addiction, took me in its grip—once I started, I couldn't put it down. A brilliant meta-memoir.

Update 12/10/2016: Even better second time around.
Dec 30, 2016 Drew rated it really liked it
Review TK
Jan 02, 2017 Tobias rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2017
Good, harrowing writing, with a powerful structure.
Krista Varela
Krista Varela rated it it was amazing
Jan 27, 2017
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JOSHUA MOHR is the author of five novels, including “Damascus,” which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.” He’s also written “Fight Song” and “Some Things that Meant the World to Me,” one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, as well as “Termite Parade,” an Editors’ Choice on The New York Times Best Seller List. His novel “All This Life” was recentl ...more
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