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Review: Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man

October 4, 2012

When I think of drug addicts, I don’t think of people like Bill Clegg.  He was a literary agent with a thriving business, a loving partner, and $70,000 in the bank when his addiction took over.  Even though he seemed to have everything going for him, he was driven to smoke crack to the point where it consumed his life.  He left his home and would stay in hotels, order thousands of dollars worth of crack, and party with anyone he came into contact with.   Of course, he eventually hit rock bottom and was lucky enough to have friends who were willing to help him out of the dark hole he was in.

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man, by Bill Clegg, is the harrowing story of his addiction to crack.  Told in the present tense with flashbacks to his youth and his first experience with the drug, Clegg conveys the frenzied pace, overpowering desire, and rising paranoia associated with drug addiction.

This book gives readers an idea of what it’s like in the mind of a drug addict.  The addict’s mind and this story race at a frenetic, dizzying pace.  At times it seems like too much to take, yet I was fully absorbed, trying to understand why anyone would behave in such a manner.  I found it fascinating and horrifying all at the same time.

I am nowhere and belong nowhere.  I can now see how it all happens – the gradual slide down, the arrival at each new unthinkable place – the crack den, the rehab, the jail, the street, the homeless shelter, a quick shock and then a new reality that one adjusts to.  Am I now in the purgatory between citizen and nobody, between a fine young man and a bum?

I do have to admit that I wondered how he could remember this harrowing time in his life in such detail, but came to realize that the details aren’t what’s important – it’s the feeling caused by the addiction that is, and I think Clegg nails that.  If you, or someone you know, struggles with addiction, Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is a must read.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth F permalink
    October 4, 2012 6:11 am

    Although it sounds fascinating to get a hint of what it would be like to have such an overriding addiction, I’m not quite sure this is for me.

  2. sandynawrot permalink
    October 4, 2012 6:47 am

    I’m sure it is a hard read, but I think it is important. Nobody out there reading this review is safe. Addiction, whether it be drugs, alcohol, gambling, you name it, can affect anyone, not just the poor or those from broken families. I give a lot of credit to this guy for providing insight into one of the world’s biggest epidemics.

  3. October 4, 2012 8:06 am

    This sounds like an interesting read.

  4. October 4, 2012 8:46 am

    I agree that this could be a hard read, but an important one!

  5. October 4, 2012 9:01 am

    This sounds very personal for him and hopefully helpful for many people.

  6. October 4, 2012 10:37 am

    I’m not sure if this one would be for me, but I would like to give it a try. Great review! This one was new to me.

  7. zibilee permalink
    October 4, 2012 11:28 am

    This sounds harrowing, but also very intriguing. I agree that this does not sound like the typical drug addiction memoir, and that is what draws me towards it. Great review today, Kathy!

  8. October 4, 2012 12:44 pm

    I’ve grown up around addiction and it takes many forms and excludes no one. It’s terrifying to admit but it’s true.

  9. October 4, 2012 1:15 pm

    This sounds intense and riveting! Terrific review, Kathy!

  10. October 4, 2012 2:05 pm

    Sounds like a difficult read. I’m not sure that I’m up to it.

  11. bookingmama permalink
    October 4, 2012 2:26 pm

    What an unbelievable story. You just never know.

  12. October 4, 2012 3:09 pm

    I wouldn’t think of a well-off literary agent being an addict either, so it’s good to have books like this challenge pre-conceptions. I am so thankful that no one immediately close to me suffers with drug addiction.

  13. October 4, 2012 3:57 pm

    That passage you shared is compelling and powerful. While I’m not the biggest fan of memoirs, this would be one that I really would include on my TBR. Thanks for sharing this!

  14. October 4, 2012 8:30 pm

    This book sounds really good! I don’t typically enjoy memoirs, but this is one I have to read.

  15. October 4, 2012 8:33 pm

    I really liked this book, I thought it was an interesting portrayal!

  16. October 4, 2012 8:45 pm

    This sounds like too much for me.

  17. October 4, 2012 9:31 pm

    I’m sure most people wouldn’t imagine a drug addict being this type of person … but I bet it is more common than we think.

  18. Caite permalink
    October 4, 2012 10:08 pm

    Sadly, any sort of person, in any class, any race, can become an addict. Even if they themselves don’t believe it.

  19. October 4, 2012 10:29 pm

    This sounds like an interesting book. I always wonder what makes people even think to try a drug, especially when they know how addicting it is.

  20. October 4, 2012 11:19 pm

    Sounds like a fascinating read. It is surprising that the author could recall so many details of his difficult past. Hope this book gives some readers hope.

  21. October 5, 2012 4:56 pm

    This sounds really interesting. Addiction doesn’t discriminate age or status. I wonder what made him try drugs in the first place.

  22. October 5, 2012 9:35 pm

    I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while, and I think your review has made me push it up a few notches on the ole “to read” list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  23. October 6, 2012 1:56 pm

    This one sounds like a fascinating, powerful and sad story. I had a friend of mine die young because of heavy drug use. It consumes the person and their brain so totally. But to have a book out, it seems like Clegg was able to conquer his addiction.

  24. October 7, 2012 12:32 pm

    Perfect summary for your review … sometimes it ISN’T in the details, but in the feelings and emotions. This sounds like a great, if disturbing, read.

  25. October 7, 2012 9:30 pm

    I am always intrigued by this type of story and to see what would make a person turn their entire world upside down because of a drug. Excellent review!

  26. October 9, 2012 8:05 am

    This would probably answer most of my questions about addicts and how they hit bottom.

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