The Book of Drugs: A Memoir

Mike Doughty. Da Capo, $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-306-81877-6
This memoir by singer-songwriter and former Soul Coughing front man Doughty is hardly your typical rock star memoir. Doughty is brutally honest about life as an addict, as he describes his transition from a cigarette smoker and pothead to a junkie (who takes two hours to walk to the ATM machine) and a drunk who had to sip the first drink of the day while it sat on the bar because his hands shook so much. Bringing the writing skill that he has crafted to his underground poetry, magazine articles, and songs, Doughty conveys his message with both despair and humor. For instance, reading about the slew of women he slept with while he was wasted, like the girl with the “boyish seventeen-year-old’s body and a middle-aged senator’s jowls,” one can’t help cringing and laughing at the same time. Clean since May 5, 2000, Doughty’s revelations about going to 12-step meeting and his “spiritual awakening” are just as forthright as his reminiscences about being a junkie and a drunk, though these memories and thoughts are recounted much more vividly. Along the way, Doughty discusses his bitter relationship with his band mates and the usual creative and personal problems common in rock bands, which are only made worse by the paranoia and self-hate brought on by substance abuse. While fans of Doughty will be disappointed that he doesn’t reveal more about the genesis of his songwriting, this is a compelling look at one man’s struggle to come to terms with the much-discussed connection between addiction and art. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2011
Release date: 01/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 257 pages - 978-0-306-82050-2
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