This is the Dirty Harry model of recovery, and the cinematic quality of some of Freyâ€™s exploits makes you wonder whether the facts in this memoir have been enhanced. Whatâ€™s genuine is the propulsive energy the book shares with earlier chronicles of overgrown-adolescent angst and misbehavior, like Elizabeth Wurtzelâ€™s memoir â€œProzac Nationâ€ or Chuck Palahniukâ€™s novel â€œFight Club.â€ Although, like Wurtzel, Frey writes about events that happened when he was no longer a teen-ager, conventional wisdom has it that the emotional development of an addict remains stalled at the age he started using. Freyâ€”who began getting drunk at ten, expanded into cocaine, LSD, and speed at fifteen, and by twenty-two had a crack habitâ€”actually beats the formula by a few years; heâ€™s got more or less the temperament and insight of a sixteen-year-old.
I read Frey’s book a couple of weekends ago and found it a quick read, with some memorable and moving scenes. But in the end it wasn’t terribly distinct from other addiction memoirs, and it was a bit too self-congratulatory and repetitive for my taste.
In short, I wouldn’t rush out and buy it in hardcover unless The Strand is a resource available to you.