The Night of the Gun

  • by David Carr
  • Narrated by Charles Leggett
  • 13 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Do we remember only the stories we can live with? The ones that make us look good in the rearview mirror? In The Night of the Gun, David Carr redefines memoir with the revelatory story of his years as an addict and chronicles his journey from crack-house regular to regular columnist for The New York Times.Built on 60 videotaped interviews, legal and medical records, and three years of reporting, The Night of the Gun is a ferocious tale that uses the tools of journalism to fact-check the past. Carr's investigation of his own history reveals that his odyssey through addiction, recovery, cancer, and life as a single parent was far more harrowing - and, in the end, more miraculous - than he allowed himself to remember. Over the course of the book, he digs his way through a past that continues to evolve as he reports it.That long-ago night when he was so out of his mind that his best friend had to pull a gun on him to make him go away? A visit to the friend 20 years later reveals that Carr was pointing the gun.His lucrative side business as a cocaine dealer? Not all that lucrative, as it turned out, and filled with peril.His belief that after his twins were born, he quickly sobered up to become a parent? Nice story, if he could prove it.The notion that he was an easy choice as a custodial parent once he finally was sober? His lawyer pulls out the old file and gently explains it was a little more complicated than that.In one sense, the story of The Night of the Gun is a common one: a white-boy misdemeanant lands in a ditch and is restored to sanity through the love of his family, a God of his understanding, and a support group that will go unnamed. But when the whole truth is told, it does not end there.Ferocious and eloquent, courageous and bitingly funny, The Night of the Gun unravels the ways memory helps us not only create our lives, but survive them.


What the Critics Say

"Whoa: a breathtakingly candid, laugh-out-loud funny, heroically rigorous, consistently riveting, and deeply moving account of a nightmarish descent and amazing redemption." (Kurt Andersen)
"David Carr's The Night of the Gun reinvents the memoir genre by applying a dose of journalistic integrity. Carr's style is as elegant as his saga is gritty, and the story of his life is simply extraordinary. " (Jeffrey Toobin)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An Act of Addiction

As a psychiatric nurse, lawyer, and the child of many generations of alcoholics, I have some experience in the world in which Mr. Carr moves. The author freely acknowledges this book is an act of overt narcissism. More importantly, however, it is an act of addiction. Mr. Carr merely trades his self-involved drinking and using for self-involved writing. The aggrandizement of his actions, good and bad, is as toxic and revealing as would be watching him tip a glass or snort a line. In the guise of telling the journalistic "whole truth," Mr. Carr settles scores with old adversaries and ingratiates himself to old friends. Ninth stepping this ain't. This book manages to be shameless and shameful at the same time. If Mr. Carr truly embraced the principles of recovery he reports to hold so sacred, he would have made his amends and this journey in privacy and humility. We all have dark moments, some as dark as Mr. Carr's, but to shout them from the parapets of Simon & Schuster is to debase the real drama and struggle in order to sell books.
I am astonished at the fact that most reviewers laud Mr. Carr's prose style; it is royally purple and ridiculously melodramatic. His penchant for overusing words like "prosaic" and "trope" is pedantic and amateurish.
After the 13 hours required to listen to this book, I wish I could dismiss it as just another badly acted Lifetime Movie. It is far worse than that. That any publisher could do anything but embarrassedly pass on this book speaks volumes (pun intended) about the publishing industry. My only recommendation for Night of the Gun and its author is more meetings, many, many more meetings.
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- Mark

Like Watching a Train Wreck

Carr's self-destructive, self-indulgent, narcisstic and totally selfish life is laid out with jumps back and forth in time which can be annoying. He really needed a good editor because the last third of the story dragged like molasses. When he admitted to allowing his brother to settle his debts pennies on the dollar -- an unofficial bankruptcy -- that did it for me. He did, after all, obtain the services or purchase the things he decided he could not afford to pay for because he was drunk or drugged out when he purchased/obtained them. Why people like him think, ok, it will be hard for me to pay my debts . . . so I won't, and think that is acceptable is a mystery to me. I also can't imagine why exposing his hellatious life of rotten decisions would in some way help and not deeply embarrass his children. My guess is he did it for money. Having said all this, I admit I listened to almost the whole thing -- skipping several chapters during said boring last third.
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- E. Golladay

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-05-2008
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio