Thursday, September 15, 2016

254. The Night of the Gun

I finished reading “The Night of the Gun” by David Carr last night. I feel like I have a special connection to Carr even though I never met him. He’s from Minneapolis, and now that I’ve been living in the area for a while, it was kind of cool to identify with many of the places in the book. I also recognized some names that he used. (He didn’t use last names.) Carr was also a columnist for the New York Times and I made it a habit to read his columns on a regular basis. He kept me optimistic about journalism.

This story was unique. It wasn’t your typical addiction memoir where the protagonist goes into lurid detail about all the benders he or she went on. While Carr did describe many benders, he explored them through a journalist’s lense. He went back and interviewed lots of people about his life. He got police reports, newspaper articles, and other firsthand source information. It was a really interesting way to explore one’s past.

I’ve been reading a lot about addiction lately. I’ve read a lot about the study on lawyer’s that came out earlier this year. It basically said that around 20 percent of lawyers show signs of problem drinking. They also suffer from high rates of anxiety and burnout. Basically, it’s not a good thing. I’ve been wondering how best to convey this message through my work being in communications for a bar association.

I liked this memoir because it didn’t feel like he was exagerating or exhibiting false modesty at any times. During the times he partied too hard, he would admit that he didn’t remember. When he succeeded, he gave credit where credit was due.

I thought the most interesting part of the book was near the end. Carr was living in New York City and had a steady job with the New York Times. After 14 years of sobriety, he relapsed. It wasn’t a sudden jolt back into his partying ways. It was a steady, steep decline. There were drinks after work that suddenly turned into benders. The turning point was when he was pulled over for a DWI. Neither of his teenage twin daughters had seen him drunk (they were both young when he went into recovery), so they’re perspective on that time was both enlightening and infuriating.

David Carr was somebody who I admired in journalism. I liked that he had a rugged optimism about the business even as the walls were crumbling during the financial crisis. I admire that in a person. I don’t think it was misplaced optimism either. It was genuine. After a few dozen years of working in all sorts of outlets, he had perspective that lots of people these days do not have.

I don’t have any other column that I’ve really latched onto since he died. It’s kind of sad. I really miss his perspective on things. I’m still optimistic about journalism. Though, it would be nice have someone who could still carry the torch.

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