By Dave Itzkoff
(Villard, Hardcover, 9781400065721, 240pp.)
Publication Date: January 18, 2011
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With sharp wit, self-deprecating humor, and penetrating honesty, New York Times journalist Dave Itzkoff turns a keen eye on his life with the mysterious, maddening, much-loved man of whom he writes, “for the first eight years of my life I seem to have believed he was the product of my imagination.”
Itzkoff’s father was the man who lumbered home at night and spent hours murmuring to his small son about his dreams and hopes for the boy’s future, and the fears and failures of his own past. He was the hard-nosed New York fur merchant with an unexpectedly emotional soul; a purveyor of well-worn anecdotes and bittersweet life lessons; a trusted ally in childhood revolts against motherly discipline and Hebrew school drudgery; a friend, advisor, and confidant. He was also a junkie. In Cocaine’s Son, Itzkoff chronicles his coming of age in the disjointed shadow of his father’s double life—struggling to reconcile his love for the garrulous protector and provider, and his loathing for the pitiful addict.
Through his adolescent and teen years Itzkoff is haunted by the spectacle of his father’s drug-fueled depressions and disappearances. In college, Itzkoff plunges into his own seemingly fated bout with substance abuse. And later, an emotional therapy session ends in the intense certainty that he will never overcome the same demons that have driven the older man. But when his father finally gets clean, a long “morning after” begins for them both. And on a road trip across the country and back into memory, in search of clues and revelations, together they discover that there may be more binding them than ever separated them.
Unsparing and heartbreaking, mordantly funny and powerfully felt, Cocaine’s Son clears a place for Dave Itzkoff in the forefront of contemporary memoirists.
Dave Itzkoff is a reporter on the culture desk of The New York Times and the lead contributor to its popular ArtsBeat blog. He is the author of Lads and has written for numerous publications, including GQ, Vanity Fair, Details, Wired, Elle, Spin, The New York Times Book Review, and New York magazine, which published the essay from which this book is adapted. He now has a great relationship with his father.
“A remarkable story, beautifully told, sad and painful and funny and hopeful, with a realistic and nuanced message about reconciliation and redemption… I couldn’t stop reading.”
—David Sheff, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Beautiful Boy
"Cocaine’s Son is powerful, sad, and funny in the strangest places. Itzkoff recounts what it’s like to be a son of addiction and a son of America—which end up being much the same thing.”
—Rob Sheffield, author of New York Times bestseller Love is a Mixtape and Talking to Girls about Duran Duran
”While the real blow in Cocaine’s Son is the one Dave Itzkoff delivers to the walls surrounding an emotionally complex and often infuriating relationship with his drug-addicted father—it’s the book’s message of acceptance and forgiveness that ultimately stays with you.”
—Joshua Lyon, author of Pill Head
“Deftly written, with great wit and candor, Cocaine’s Son is a welcome beacon of hope for those of us trying to negotiate new relationships with difficult parents."
—Janice Erlbaum, author of Girlbomb and Have You Found Her?
"A memoir can be great for many reasons, but one quality matters more than all the others -- brutal, uncomfortable honesty. That's what's inside this book. Moreover, Cocaine’s Son confronts a brutal, uncomfortable question: How do you forgive someone for their mistakes if those mistakes are the only relationship you have? Dave Itzkoff is a complicated man. After reading this book, I understand why."
—Chuck Klosterman, author of Eating the Dinosaur