“Sitting outside my hotel in Tucson, nineteen years after the twins were born, Anna suggested that I had, on one occasion, smoked crack in her hospital room. There is no personal recollection of doing so, but I have no reason to doubt her.” (151)
David Carr was an addict, and the worst kind. He had a job, but no motivation to get sober. He had kids, and it still took them getting taken away to get sober, in fact, Carr and Anna, the mother of his children, were getting high when she went into labor. As the quotation implies, Carr has to piece together his past to write this book and discovers or remembers bad things. Addiction was Carr’s driving force in the eighties. Right away, Carr talks about knowing what he deserved and being so lucky that he got “a nice house, a good job, three lovely children.”(16) And he is lucky. Carr was on the bad side of a lot of things, he was disappointing his mother, his boss, and the people who cared about him. He lost his job, wife, money, dignity, and left his children orphaned.
Carr started off “The Night of the Gun” in 1987 with a memory of being high at work while talking to the editor of the magazine he worked at. His boss told him to get treatment or to be fired; he’d even called a place to have a bed ready. Carr said “I’m not done yet” and left the office only to meet up with another coke-buddy on the street. He met up with another buddy and they had a night. They drugged up, got kicked out of a bar, had a slightly terrifying fight involving a gun and a broken window, and the cops were called. Carr woke up with a killer hangover and blood all over himself. He barely remembered anything about that night. This doesn’t sound like an enjoyable night, so why would someone choose to keep going with these nights?
Twenty years later, he learned he may not even have the story correct. “Memories, even epic ones, are perishable from their very formation even in people who don’t soak their brains in mood-altering chemicals.”(12) A lot of Carr’s own story is based on his scarce and slightly unreliable memory or other people’s scarce and slightly unreliable memory. Carr talks about remembering the best about himself, because that’s what people like to do. Sydney always talks about how on our first trip to Chicago together, she wanted to murder me, but I truthfully don’t remember it being that awful. I don’t want to remember being mean to one of my best friends, and Carr doesn’t want to remember brandishing a gun at his buddy.
Carr has so many party memories, so many bad party experiences. He had to rely on the memories of Anna’s ex-husband during her pregnancy. Carr is reporting his experience through interviews with old friends, finding pictures and letters and documents. From being caught doing coke in a bathroom by a police officer to trying to tell his story by getting a hold of so many different magazines and newspapers. “Here, safe in an Adirondack redoubt where I am piecing together the history of That Guy, I often feel I have very little in common with him. And that distance will keep me typing until he turns into this guy.”(186) I don’t have any experience with addiction, unless reading Harry Potter every summer counts, but reading about Carr’s experience helps one understand that addiction takes away your life. Carr piecing together his memories is painful to read.