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Husband, addict, father, skeptic. Now sixty―with years of sobriety under his belt―the celebrated author of The Los Angeles Diaries and This River returns with his most moving work yet.
Opening with the tragic tale of an elderly couple consumed by opioid addiction and moving through the horrors of a Las Vegas massacre to the loss of a beloved sponsor, these essays draw on Brown’s personal journey to illustrate how an individual life, in all its messiness and charm, can offer a blueprint for healing. From writing about finding a new path in life while raising three sons, to making peace with the family whose ghosts have haunted him, and helping the next generation of addicts overcome their disease, this haunting and hopeful book is a reinvention of the recovery story and a lasting testimony from the master of the modern memoir.
“The third panel in Brown’s masterwork triptych on addiction from youth to sixty, Apology to the Young Addict also accomplishes at last a staggeringly rare mercy―on the ghosts of memory, the ravages of disease, the brutal hypocrisies of religion, and finally―most shockingly―on himself.” ―Gina Frangello, author of Every Kind of Wanting and A Life in Men
"James Brown’s Apology to the Young Addict does not just breathe new life into addiction writing, it does so with enough grace, heart, and grab-you-by-the-throat style to transcend the genre and qualify as genuine literature. These beautiful essays will serve as balm for survivors of the opioid crisis, those still struggling to make it out, and pretty much anyone else trying to stay sane in these insane times. Prose-wise—with all due respect to his late namesake—James Brown has earned his title as the Godfather of Junkie Soul." —Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
"James Brown’s Apology to the Young Addict may be the closest linguistic facsimile to what it’s like to be in recovery: haunted, growing old, somehow not yet world-weary, but always a razor’s breadth—one day at a time—away from chaos. The third panel in Brown’s masterwork triptych on addiction from youth to sixty, Apology to the Young Addict also accomplishes at last a staggeringly rare mercy—on the ghosts of memory, the ravages of disease, the brutal hypocrisies of religion, and finally—most shockingly—on himself.” —Gina Frangello, author of Every Kind of Wanting and A Life in Men
“The undeniable force of James Brown’s writing is its ability to concentrate and to distill. His language is pharmaceutical grade, has a devastating purity, and unlike many of the world’s great gritty writers—Céline, say, Bukowski—Brown’s writing makes no romantic claim, finds no virtue in degeneracy, sounds off no been-down-so-long-it-looks-like-up-to-me anthems to lull the reader. This is writing with the compulsive energy of an addict, and it refuses to traffic in bromides. Apology to the Young Addict is the last in a trilogy that started with The Los Angeles Diaries and continued with This River. Each is a reckoning with the misery of mourning, and each is a celebration of a life. Rarely is writing so hard-won, and rarely are the rewards this powerful.” —Michelle Latiolais, author of She
“In Apology to the Young Addict, James Brown has written one of the most complex illustrations of our human flaws and our chances at redemption—no matter how slim those chances might seem. Brown is brilliant at rendering both our often-brutal truths and our hard-earned hopes of healing and redemption. It’s a book of perspective, empathy, and wisdom for addicts and anyone who’s ever loved them. And it’s a book that, while never preaching to the reader, will help an enormous number of people." —Rob Roberge, author of Liar