Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir

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by Bill Clegg
     
 

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Bill Clegg had a thriving business as a literary agent, representing a growing list of writers. He had a supportive partner, trusting colleagues, and loving friends when he walked away from his world and embarked on a two-month crack binge. He had been released from rehab nine months earlier, and his relapse would cost him his home, his money, his career, and very

Overview

Bill Clegg had a thriving business as a literary agent, representing a growing list of writers. He had a supportive partner, trusting colleagues, and loving friends when he walked away from his world and embarked on a two-month crack binge. He had been released from rehab nine months earlier, and his relapse would cost him his home, his money, his career, and very nearly his life.

What is it that leads an exceptional young mind to want to disappear? Clegg makes stunningly clear the attraction of the drug that had him in its thrall, capturing in scene after scene the drama, tension, and paranoiac nightmare of a secret life-and the exhilarating bliss that came again and again until it was eclipsed almost entirely by doom. PORTRAIT OF AN ADDICT AS A YOUNG MAN is an utterly compelling narrative-lyrical, irresistible, harsh, and honest-from which you simply cannot look away.

Editorial Reviews

Andrew O'Hagan
"Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is an instant classic. Anybody who knows anything about addiction will feel morally altered by this book. To an extraordinary degree, it has both beauty and truth."
Danielle Trussoni
"Bill Clegg's memoir is a startling, hair-raising, and compulsively readable account of one man's descent into the hell of addiction."
Irvine Welsh
"Bill Clegg's story of a man-largely locked in hotel rooms, engaged in a desperate, heart-wrenching battle with himself--is destined to become a cult classic of writing on drug addiction."
Elinor Lipman
"I devoured Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man, couldn't put it down. The writing throughout is beautiful, and all the while it is reportorial and efficient and honest--a rare combination of feats!"
Jonathan Van Meter - Vogue
"Clegg may not have been able to control his demons, but he is utterly in charge of this material, with a voice that is knowing and self-deprecating in exactly the right measure."
David Carr - The New York Times Book Review
"Rings true in brutal, blunt strokes."
Maggie Fergusson - The Economist
"This narrative of addiction is itself addictive, and strangely beautiful."
Susan Juby - The Globe and Mail
"I raced through the book in an evening.... That Clegg survived and is well enough to write a book this good is incredible."
Kirk Davis Swinehart - Chicago Tribune
"Bill Clegg has written an exceptionally fine addition to a genre largely bereft of style, intelligence, and moral complexity.... It's plain to see that people stuck by him because they enjoy his company, because he inspires fierce loyalty. Now, at last, Bill Clegg seems capable of believing it."
Newsweek
"Many first-time memoirists are motivated by self-serving desires: to make the world notice them or to make the world like them. Neither can be said of Bill Clegg."
From the Publisher
"Clegg may not have been able to control his demons, but he is utterly in charge of this material, with a voice that is knowing and self-deprecating in exactly the right measure."—Jonathan Van Meter, Vogue"

It turns out there is room on the shelf for one more addiction memoir....Clegg spares no one's feelings, least of all his own; it's not the brutality that makes this worthwhile but rather the strange beauty of the stream-of consciousness prose. We're voyeurs, as helpless to stop the carnage as the author himself."—Mickey Rapkin, GQ"

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is an instant classic. Anybody who knows anything about addiction will feel morally altered by this book. To an extraordinary degree, it has both beauty and truth."—Andrew O'Hagan"

Bill Clegg's memoir is a startling, hair-raising, and compulsively readable account of one man's descent into the hell of addiction."—Danielle Trussoni"

Bill Clegg's story of a man-largely locked in hotel rooms, engaged in a desperate, heart-wrenching battle with himself—is destined to become a cult classic of writing on drug addiction."—Irvine Welsh"

I devoured Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man, couldn't put it down. The writing throughout is beautiful, and all the while it is reportorial and efficient and honest—a rare combination of feats!"—Elinor Lipman"

Rings true in brutal, blunt strokes."—David Carr, The New York Times Book Review"

This narrative of addiction is itself addictive, and strangely beautiful."—Maggie Fergusson, The Economist"

I raced through the book in an evening.... That Clegg survived and is well enough to write a book this good is incredible."—Susan Juby, The Globe and Mail"

Bill Clegg has written an exceptionally fine addition to a genre largely bereft of style, intelligence, and moral complexity.... It's plain to see that people stuck by him because they enjoy his company, because he inspires fierce loyalty. Now, at last, Bill Clegg seems capable of believing it."—Kirk Davis Swinehart, Chicago Tribune"

One of the reasons to stick with Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is the lightly narcotized sensorium of Mr. Clegg's prose.... He can write."—Dwight Garner, The New York Times"

Many first-time memoirists are motivated by self-serving desires: to make the world notice them or to make the world like them. Neither can be said of Bill Clegg."—Newsweek

Dwight Garner - The New York Times
"One of the reasons to stick with Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is the lightly narcotized sensorium of Mr. Clegg's prose.... He can write."
Mickey Rapkin - GQ
"It turns out there is room on the shelf for one more addiction memoir....Clegg spares no one's feelings, least of all his own; it's not the brutality that makes this worthwhile but rather the strange beauty of the stream-of consciousness prose. We're voyeurs, as helpless to stop the carnage as the author himself."
Jonathan Van Meter
Clegg may not have been able to control his demons, but he is utterly in charge of this material, with a voice that is knowing and self-deprecating in exactly the right measure.
Vogue
Mickey Rapkin
It turns out there is room on the shelf for one more addiction memoir....Clegg spares no one's feelings, least of all his own; it's not the brutality that makes this worthwhile but rather the strange beauty of the stream-of consciousness prose. We're voyeurs, as helpless to stop the carnage as the author himself.
GQ
Dwight Garner
One of the reasons to stick with Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is the lightly narcotized sensorium of Mr. Clegg's prose.... He can write.
The New York Times
David Carr
Rings true in brutal, blunt strokes.
The New York Times Book Review
Maggie Fergusson
This narrative of addiction is itself addictive, and strangely beautiful.
The Economist
Susan Juby
I raced through the book in an evening.... That Clegg survived and is well enough to write a book this good is incredible.
The Globe and Mail
Kirk Davis Swinehart
Bill Clegg has written an exceptionally fine addition to a genre largely bereft of style, intelligence, and moral complexity.... It's plain to see that people stuck by him because they enjoy his company, because he inspires fierce loyalty. Now, at last, Bill Clegg seems capable of believing it.
Chicago Tribune
Details
"Clegg...cuts through the addiction-memoir noise, recounting the glamour and pathos of self-destruction with efficiency and disturbing clarity."
Jay McInerney
Bill Clegg... has written a streamlined, hair-raising, high-torque memoir...Even though we know how the story must end, it's hard to believe Clegg will survive the ordeal he describes in such horrific detail.
Vanity Fair
Christopher Bollen
For all the literary musings on drugs, the business of literature is a rather sober and cerebral place. That fact may explain why the memoir of literary agent Bill Clegg, which recounts a nosedive not so very long ago into crack addiction, seems as shocking as his ability to construct gorgeously poetic scenes seems intuitive.... Clegg barrels full force into a spiraling Manhattan phantasmagoria of hot-boxed hotel bathrooms, more-than-willing drug dealers, boyfriend betrayal, insane paranoia, days gone missing, and the endless hunger of wanting just one more taste of the very thing that's eating you whole.
Interview
Michael Cunningham

PRAISE FOR PORTRAIT OF AN ADDICT AS A YOUNG MAN:

"Bill Clegg's Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man stands up to Frederick Exley's great memoir of alcoholism, A Fan's Notes . . . . But really, forget comparisons. Read the book."

Jay McInerney - Vanity Fair
"Bill Clegg... has written a streamlined, hair-raising, high-torque memoir...Even though we know how the story must end, it's hard to believe Clegg will survive the ordeal he describes in such horrific detail."
Christopher Bollen - Interview
"For all the literary musings on drugs, the business of literature is a rather sober and cerebral place. That fact may explain why the memoir of literary agent Bill Clegg, which recounts a nosedive not so very long ago into crack addiction, seems as shocking as his ability to construct gorgeously poetic scenes seems intuitive.... Clegg barrels full force into a spiraling Manhattan phantasmagoria of hot-boxed hotel bathrooms, more-than-willing drug dealers, boyfriend betrayal, insane paranoia, days gone missing, and the endless hunger of wanting just one more taste of the very thing that's eating you whole."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316054669
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
08/08/2011
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
501,700
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)

What People are saying about this

Elinor Lipman
I devoured Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man, couldn't put it down. The writing throughout is beautiful, and all the while it is reportorial and efficient and honest—a rare combination of feats!
Irvine Welsh
Bill Clegg's story of a man-largely locked in hotel rooms, engaged in a desperate, heart-wrenching battle with himself—is destined to become a cult classic of writing on drug addiction.
Danielle Trussoni
Bill Clegg's memoir is a startling, hair-raising, and compulsively readable account of one man's descent into the hell of addiction.
Andrew O'Hagan
Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is an instant classic. Anybody who knows anything about addiction will feel morally altered by this book. To an extraordinary degree, it has both beauty and truth.

Meet the Author

Bill Clegg is a literary agent in New York. Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is his first book.

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Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the book gave a good glimpse into the life of an addict. He didn't sugar coat anything! Well written. He may have written it to give closure to that part of his life....to close the door on it! That is my hope for him!
Ma756 More than 1 year ago
Nothing new or unique about this book. Its just out there to gain sympathy like all other addiction memoirs. The literary agent to being an agent. He's clearly better at being an agent or at least one would hope so.
Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
It can be a struggle to make it through this memoir PORTRAIT OF AN ADDICT AS A YOUNG MAN. Bill Clegg's life situation and changes due to his extraordinary utter addiction to smoking crack could have been developed into a keener understanding of why addiction is such a devastating disease, but instead Clegg seems more interested in sharing episode after endless episode of becoming blotto on his drug of choice, moments that after a while become fast page turners because he has just taken us there countless times before. Yes, his 'flashbacks' to his youth as an abused child because of a genitourinary/psychological problem voiding and its sequelae and his coping with the family introduction to his sexual proclivity are dotted here and there. His relationships to both his life partner Noah and to his semi-sequestered encounters of a physical nature are no match for his emphasis on his dependence on his contacts and suppliers and his wooing cabdrivers et al to 'hang out' and share getting high. Clegg is a literary agent in New York and as such must read a lot of novels and other memoir-based books. One thing sets him apart: he writes in brief paragraphs separated on the page by considerable space, and that may be a visual means of helping the reader to understand the staccato outbursts of thought and words that come from an addict's mouth and mind. But in the end, this is yet another addict memoir that adds little to the shelves of similar books. The pity is that it would seem Clegg had an advantage in knowing how to deliver this information in a better way. Most people come to this book wanting to like the story, wanting to empathize with Bill Clegg and his journey through purgatory, but he simply loses us in the fall. Grady Harp
jhnyc More than 1 year ago
of all the books i've read; never moved to write a review. a must-read - well-written, powerful without preaching - an honest account of one man's experiences...
pdawg16323 More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book, the jumping back and forth made it good to and im not into stories that do this but I couldn't put it down!
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Cant wait for the follow up
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virtshelly More than 1 year ago
A blow by blow account of how many drugs he smoked on any particular night. Ignored any insight into his problem except that he had trouble peeing as a child. Completely elimanated and discussion of his recovery process or what helped him conquer his problem. I found the book to be very shallow and repetitive and was very disappointed.
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