Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Book of Drugs by Mike Doughty

Mike Doughty's memoir of sex, drugs, and cult rock stardom is a fantastic read, and earned itself 4 out of 5 stars on my bookshelf. But, don't pick it up if you'll be crushed by his hatred for his years with Soul Coughing, since he's pretty vocal about how that part of his life basically sucked.

I was recommended this book by a good friend of mine, and it's times like this that I'm glad I'm friends with him. This was a fantastic memoir of rock stardom, drug addiction, and the upward climb back out of that hole. Similar lines to Russell Brand's autobiographies, but I understood more of the references and didn't have to check my American-British dictionary quite as often.

One of the best parts of reading this memoir was having Doughty's music playing on my Spotify account.. I just feel like I appreciated the music more from learning about his life, and it was great mood music (Seriously though, go check out Haughty Melodic and some of his other solo albums. The Soul Coughing albums were alright, but I feel like his solo work is better).

I have to say though, I wasn't a fan of the layout of The Book of Drugs. Stream of consciousness is great, but having chapters or more identifiable breaks in the narrative would have been greatly appreciated. Also, maybe a little more background in some of the stories; I wasn't familiar with Doughty or Soul Coughing before I started this book, and I feel like a little more history and information might have been good. I did like his refusal to name almost all the people and characters, most notably his Soul Coughing band members. Be it from dislike or from worry over being sued, it added a very real sense of what being in this band must have been like. They did NOT get along, and for him to still not mention them by name over a decade after splitting up is pretty interesting.

Doughty's battle with poly-substance abuse and addiction was clearly very tough, and it's great that he got through it (not only because he's still alive and well, but because he's put out great music and I think it's a shame I haven't heard any of it before 2 weeks ago). I particularly liked his thoughts on 12 step meetings and prayers and god, it's refreshing for people involved in these meetings to express their discomfort at the cult-esque-ness of them. And also for the heavy reliance on religion... god isn't going to be the answer for every addict, and I don't really think it's a great idea for them to focus so strongly on praying and turning to god to solve things. Or maybe I'm really just jaded thanks to my years in psychology and forensic psychology classes, and happen to like other theories of drug abuse and treatment. Ah well, to each his own.

Some quotes I happened to like throughout the book:
"Look to this day, for it is life! The very life of life."
"You can wear life like a loose garment."
"If we had true knowledge of the cosmos, our skulls would burst. You're like a flea contemplating the Empire State Building."

Food for thought, is all...
Keep an eye on my blog in the following weeks; I've been insanely busy but by the time my finals are over (again, two weeks still...) I'm hoping to have finished A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin and to have reviews up for both that and for Without Conscience by Robert Hare.

Keep reading, and don't forget to let me know what you think of my reviews or the books themselves!
- Justin

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