I love raw honesty. People who tell their story as it happened, regardless of what the others may think. Those who expose their flaws, shortcomings and mistakes for the world to see, leaving themselves completely vulnerable. Those are my favorite stories. The person who started from the bottom and made it to the top just to lose it all and do it all over again. The beyond underdog story. I relate to stories of total chaos and tragedy as much as I learn from them.
As I recently read skateboarder and recovering addict Brandon Novak’s memoir Dreamseller in a day and a half, I realized I have an obsessive interest in these kinds of stories. Of all the books I’ve ever read, the ones I seemed incapable of putting down were the most shocking and horrifying tales of drug abuse and tragedy. Even better if you sprinkle in a dash of rock and roll as I read Nikki sixx’s The Heroin Diaries in a matter of days as well two summers ago and did the same with Marilyn Manson’s The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell. While I’ve battled addiction myself, I’ve never done heroin and I’ve never played an instrument so it’s not necessarily deeply relating to their stories that captivates me, it’s their unwavering honesty. As I compulsively read Dreamseller, I highlighted certain passages and I’d like to share one I believe best illustrates my point.
“I was a dreamseller, a medium through which my loved ones could project what they wanted to believe, what they dared to dream — that I would be well. I sold them a dream, something that never existed in the first place, their own idealistic version of me. The dream that I was a recovering addict who just needed a few dollars so I could get something to eat, or I needed the money for clothes for a job interview. I told them anything they wanted to hear to get my precious next fix.”
The authors willingness to be a hundred percent honest with himself and his readers mesmerized me. This passage alone took true courage. It speaks to the deepest levels of self examination and reflection. One in which can only take place once you’ve made drastic changes in your life because only then can you begin to see how wrong you were all along.
Though as I said, I’ve never done heroin and not all of Brandon’s stories were ones I related to there is without a doubt a line of thinking among all addicts that is similar, regardless of your drug of choice and in that way I related to many of his feelings and stories. Addicts lie, manipulate and use and in a way all of our stories are the same as much as they are different. But it was more than being able to relate that kept me reading. It was more complex than that.
I recently heard comedian Marc Maron say “I don’t respect anyone who doesn’t have the courage to completely lose control of their lives for a few years and bottom out”. While he was obviously kidding, these peoples stories are without a doubt compelling as well as some of my favorites. There is something about these stories of depravity and despair such as Manson’s Long Hard Road Out Of Hell I cant put down once I pick them up. I become deeply fascinated with them to the point of obsession until I finish them in a day or two.
As a recovering addict myself perhaps my appreciation for the honesty these authors express in their memoirs stems from the fact complete honesty — with myself or others — eluded me for so long that when I see it put into action today I can’t help but commend it. Though my life has been far less entertaining than Nikki Sixx’s or Manson’s, these books also represent the kind of book I’d like to eventually write. One in which tells my whole true and honest story. The highs and the lows and everything in between. A rigorous and in depth look at who I am and who I was. It will literally be like writing the book I’ve always wanted to read.