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The Night of the Gun

A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life - His Own
Narrated by: Charles Leggett
Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
4 out of 5 stars (389 ratings)

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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.

©2008 David Carr (P)2008 Simon and Schuster, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

You'd think this would be a lot more interesting..

I'm a fan of Mr. Carr's writings in the New York Times, and was fascinated to hear about his book. However, what I got was an overwrought, unfocused mess. You'd think that a story of addiction would be totally engrossing, as the reader takes you through Carr's early days of drinking, and drugging, but I found it incredibly dull, which was a suprize!! Take a listen before you buy.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

don't bother

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

i have no idea . . .

Has The Night of the Gun turned you off from other books in this genre?

no

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Night of the Gun?

repetition . . . the book is about him getting loaded and doing stupid things over and over . . . minial reflection . . .
. I finally had to stop reading it

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • monique
  • Astoria, NY, United States
  • 03-11-15

So very smug

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

My friend in recovery thinks this book is the best biography about addiction ever. I found David Carr to be unbearably impressed with himself. and the narration just made it so much worse. My said friend is also a narcissist, and kind of unbearable as well, so I guess birds of a feather flock together....

Has The Night of the Gun turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. I enjoy gritty books about people who triumph over huge obstacles, such as drug addiction. The human heart naturally cheers for the underdog who ultimately succeeds with flying colors. There is just something really stinky about this guy. He is really annoying.

What didn’t you like about Charles Leggett’s performance?

He reads David Carr like some pseudo Hunter S. Thompson swashbuckling rogue. Almost like debauchery porn. Ugh. And the meek candy glossed voices of the people interviewed is just unbearable and nauseating. All men and women interviewed think David Carr was just this really awesome guy who happened to be shooting coke. They all seem to possess wide eyed admiration, and are childish, cardboard and colorless when set against the "almighty, wildly fun and genius DAVID CARR".

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It was listenable. Could tolerate it as a backdrop while I worked.

Any additional comments?

Wouldn't want to meet him in "the rooms". Obviously he doesn't have any need to meet me either, since there are already 1000 people walking around with t-shirts that read "A Close And Personal Friend Of David Carr". Perhaps there are a few extra t-shirts around for the likes of my ego-centric friend who adores this guy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Night of the Gun

Great story about a Reporter, (David Carr) who interviews friends and associates in an attempt to recall past experiences and events of his life when he was in the life (drugs, alcohol etc.) The narrator gives riveting descriptions and accounts of some of his trips to crack houses and his many attempts at rehab. A story not for the weak at heart, but a brave one in deed and told well.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • kim
  • brookline, MA, United States
  • 02-28-15

Well written and a poor performance

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would recommend the book but not the audiobook. I read exerpts from the book in the New York Times and I was greatly impressed with Mr. Carr's writing. The story is compelling. The narration is monotone and very forcefull. This book has many passages outlining Mr. Carr's recovery from drugs and the narrator really made me want to turn off this part. He drones on and is even preachy in a sort of holier than thow fashion.

What did you like best about this story?

Mr. Carr is a beautiful writer. His turn of phrase is eloquent.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Charles Leggett?

I don't know enough about narrators to name one however having had this experience before I would have liked to hear Mr. Carr narrate his own book. Mr Carr recently died however I would imagine this could have been recorded when published. sorry to see that chance is gone.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Very forceful and monotone. The force in the voice just did not invite me to enjoy listening. I hung in because I knew the writing was good. The narrator reminded me of a 1950's cop show on TV. This can work for a time but over and over?

Any additional comments?

Please take more care when choosing narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • D
  • 02-07-11

very very boring

the book is repetitive and nothing novel. The author, keeps repeating a very brief incident without giving is substance. Avoid if possible!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • Springfield, VT, USA
  • 05-11-09

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.

14 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • joshua
  • warner robins, GA, United States
  • 12-07-10

jesus people... did you do any research?

i love how just about all of the negative reviews have so little to do with the actual work itself! we get it, you don't like to hear/read about he subject matter in which you paid to hear/read about with this one! again, did any of you do the damn research.... or atleast simply look at the illicitly suggestive cover art? yes, it did drag on in parts... but subject matter is something you all were aware of before you started your endeavors here. how can you bitch and complain that writing about such matter was the wrong thing for Carr to do? if you feel so f*ing strongly about the subject matter, then reading it was the wrong thing for YOU to do. that's your fault. fools.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Sutton S.
  • Baltimore, MD United States
  • 08-22-19

tough book to love

This book is a fascinating, although I think ultimately failed, experiment in narrative form. The writing is solid, if sometimes a little excessively hardboiled (as if to make up for the author's often-expressed worry that, essentially, the recovery memoir is the province of weak and uninteresting writers). Carr pours a lot of effort into showing what a bad man he was, then never fails to quote people complimenting him. It's queasy making.

The section defending himself against his baby-mama's claims that he "stole" their kids feels like punching down, which is different from saying any of it is untrue. He makes a good case, I don't think he "stole" the kids—and yet for someone with his platform and status as a journalist to pour so much into making such a devastating case against someone as clearly damaged and weak as her just starts to feel like you're watching a lopsided boxing match the ref should already have called off.

As for the performance—not great. This book consists of long passages of quotes of people from Carr's past, so of course any reader would have to consider "acting" them, as in, doing voices and accents. That was the direction Leggett went, and it was not a good decision. The accents and what I could only call a sort of imitation of what spoken English sounds like, as opposed to written, seem cheesy and put on, and really only distract. The reading also needed more rehearsal. Leggett's emphases and cadence often seem off-kilter and poorly chosen, also distracting from the experience.

Update: I'll be honest, I posted this before i was done listening, with about 4 hours left to go. I did think I'd be able to finish it, at least, but my God—the post-recovery stuff is just awful. Carr turns out to be the kind of writer who refers to as "horrible" the "kind of parent who thinks everything their kid does is wonderful" (agreed; also, I'm paraphrasing from memory), then proceeds to show he is that kind of parent. I found the bile rising during a long section about how wonderful and strong his daughters were during his cancer diagnosis (he would order pizzas and THEY WOULD TAKE THE MONEY TO THE DOOR AND SAY "KEEP THE CHANGE", if you can believe it—at the age of ten). I switched it off during an anecdote about how he bought them off-brand Gummi Bears, only to see them rejected. No, thanks. So I'll never know what will happen during the final three hours of the book, but from the looks of it it will be pure padding.

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  • Emily
  • 05-30-15

Self-indulgent memoir

This has the potential to be a great story - it has all the makings of a harrowing addiction memoir. But the writing is self-indulgent and the main character unlikeable. Of course you empathise with him to a degree but the "reporting" style leaves the story disjointed and difficult to follow. There is no overarching narrative. Maybe this is just how it's meant to be and addiction memoirs are not for me.