Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life

Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life



The Pequod Review:

Before his early 2000s ascent to the pinnacle of the American media landscape (as a widely-read reporter/columnist for the New York Times), David Carr was addicted to cocaine and alcohol. In his memoir Night of the Gun, published when he was 52 years old, Carr turns his investigative eye back on his own life in an attempt to piece together what really happened on all of those blacked-out nights. Like a lot of such memoirs, the events of Carr’s past are less interesting to readers than they are to Carr himself. However, he is a very good writer:

Every hangover begins with an inventory. The next morning mine began with my mouth. I had been baking all night, and it was as dry as a two-year-old chicken bone. My head was a small prison, all yelps of pain and alarm, each movement seeming to shift bits of broken glass in my skull. My right arm came into view for inspection, caked in blood, and then I saw it had a few actual pieces of glass still embedded in it. So much for metaphor. My legs both hurt, but in remarkably different ways.


Mornings for an addict involve waking up in a room where everything implicates him. There is the tipped-over bottle, the smashed phone, the bright midday light coming through the rip in the shade that says another day has started without you. Drunks and addicts tend to build nests out of the detritus of their misbegotten lives.

It is that ecosystem, all there for the inventorying within 20 seconds of waking, which tends to make addiction a serial matter. Apart from the progression of the disease, if you wake up in that kind of hell, you might start looking for something to take the edge off... to help you reframe your little disaster area. Hmmm, just a second here. A little hair of the dog. Yep. Now, that's better. Everything is new again.

There are just enough such passages to make the book a rewarding read.