As a teen, Novak joined the premiere skateboarding team and toured the world. Unfortunately, he also indulged in "recreational" drug use that led to debilitating heroin addiction and the abandonment of his career. Eventually repudiating the abject life of a junkie, he entered rehab and subsequently recovered with the help of fellow star skateboarder Bam Margera. This would be most powerful for an audience weaned on the X-Games; also a forthcoming film of the same name.-Lynne Maxwell
Pro skateboarder loses everything to drugs, sees little light at the end of the tunnel afterward. Readers will learn more about Novak's impressive skateboarding career in the '90s by reading Tony Hawk's foreword than by reading the book itself. This is an addiction memoir, and the genre's format is by now practically set in stone: modern-day opener into which rude reality intrudes, then flashback to start of life of addiction, leading up to getting clean and ultimately vindication. While Novak and co-author Frantz don't stint on the stock scenarios, they break the mold by not pretending that a junkie's chaotic life can or should be represented in such a cut-and-dried fashion. Novak begins on August 11, 2003: "I am a twenty-five-year-old junkie, sleeping in an abandoned garage in one of the worst parts of Baltimore City." By the end of that day, he has hustled money from his mother, stolen furniture and turned a trick with a man twice his age to get his fix. The narrative settles into a rhythm after the recidivist Novak is checked into detox by a sponsor of nearly limitless patience. Following that, his account only occasionally darts backward into a happier youth, when he was touring the world as part of the famous Powell Peralta team, skating with the likes of Hawk, Buck Lasek and Steve Caballero. He served as a courier for a dealer while still on the team and crawled into the depths from there. The story of his inveterate addiction is only competently delivered, with Novak and Frantz providing reams of unnatural-sounding dialogue for the totemic figures-understanding counselor, abused mother, tough guardian-angel fellow junkie-who try to halt his slide into self-destruction. The book'ssaving grace is the conclusion, which rejects the easy self-congratulation of too many addiction memoirs in favor of a closing memento mori. Dutifully constructed and sometimes surprising, but only occasionally insightful.
Read an Excerpt
"As a skateboarder, I was fixated on testing my boundaries, but this was my way of fooling myself into feeling in control. Soon it grew to consume me."
At only twenty-two, Brandon Novak had accomplished more than most people dream of in a lifetime. By the age of fourteen, he had been discovered by legendary skateboarders Tony Hawk and Bucky Lasek, and signed on to skate professionally. By eighteen, he had traveled the world, signed autographs for thousands of fans, won big-time sponsorships, and had his photo plastered all over the skate magazines.
"I was a dreamseller. I sold those who loved me their dream that I was a recovering addict. I gained their trust, and betrayed them in order to get my precious next fix."
Yet as swiftly as his career peaked, it crashed, brought down by heroine, a force far more powerful than his greatest ambitions. One day he had it all, the next he was living in an abandoned garage, begging for spare change on the street and bathing in gas station restrooms. Brandon now lived for one thing only-his next fix.
"Where once I had the world in my hand, I now had nothing but a distorted, twisted version of what I had once been."
Brandon probably would have died a junkie's death if not for his closest friend, MTV and Jackass star, and music video director Bam Margera, who refused to give up on the "dreamseller." Bam invited Brandon into his home and gave him cameos in the CKY videos, his independent films Haggard and Minghags, his hit MTV shows Viva La Bam and Bam's Unholy Union, and the hit films Jackass Number Two and Jackass 2.5. Eventually, Bam convinced Brandon to write the powerful and shocking story of how his addictiondestroyed his skateboarding career-a story soon to be a major motion picture starring Bam Margera as Brandon Novak, the Dreamseller.
Vivid, harrowing and heartfelt, Brandon's story is a riveting and unforgettable journey from a dream life to a nightmare existence, and ultimately to waking up before it's too late.