Paperback: Leaving Dirty Jersey, by James Salant
Sunday 13 January 2008
James Salant's memoir follows a familiar path. It's remarkable how quickly the contemporary "gritty" memoir has found its form – a tussle between action sequences which invite the reader to stand beside the author and savour the damage being done; and quieter scenes establishing family relationships. You couldn't really get closer to a screenplay – which is probably where this kind of writer sees his work heading. Drug deals, then book deals, then film deals; that's the way it goes, isn't it?
Born into an upper middle-class family, Salant grew up watching his elder brother Joe morph from difficult child to petulant teenager and finally drug addict. Joe's glamorous friends became Salant's first dealers. Facing a potential prison sentence, Salant chose to enter a rehab programme in California but he only spent a couple of weeks there. Instead he relocated a few miles east to the town of Riverside, where he spent a year shooting crystal meth and hanging out with criminals. This isn't a good book, or a bad book, just another fantasy constructed out of somebody's painful addictions. Ask yourself: who's really writing the script?
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Amy Winehouse statue unveiled in Camden
- 2 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 3 George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
- 4 Headaches, fry ups, and hair of the dog - why do we get hangovers, and is there such thing as a 'cure'?
- 5 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained in Los Angeles after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly