cover image I Left It on the Mountain: A Memoir

I Left It on the Mountain: A Memoir

Kevin Sessums. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-31259-838-9

In the absorbing follow-up to his bestselling memoir Mississippi Sissy, Sessums brings his fascinating voice to this story of ambition, addiction, and recovery. Sessums chronicles his career as a prominent celebrity writer for Vanity Fair, Interview, and Parade, rubbing elbows with Andy Warhol and interviewing Madonna and Courtney Love before falling into methamphetamine addiction. Interludes throughout the primary narrative detail Sessums’s love of extreme travel: he’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and walked the famed El Camino Santiago across Spain. However, his love of other extremes—in sex and drugs—seeps into his sparkling career. After a night of bingeing on meth with a prostitute, he shows up to interview Daniel Radcliffe and asks, “Do you use Keats’s theory of negative capability in your approach to acting, in your approach to life?” Radcliffe answers, “Absolutely! You’ve found me out!” As the cycle of drugs followed by successful interviews continues, it becomes clear that Sessums is treading in dangerous water: the more he is able to function despite his addiction, the worse it becomes. The persistent subtext is that his talent for cover-ups only delays the inevitable rock bottom. And it comes: Sessums, left penniless and hallucinating, gives up his beloved dogs to try getting sober in Provincetown, Mass. Sessums’s beautiful writing carries readers through an extraordinary journey of destitution, hope, and forgiveness, from a childhood in rural Mississippi to New York City and beyond. (Feb.)