Editor's Note

A Numbing Sensation

By Tim Whitaker
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Jul. 23, 2008

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David Carr writes the media column that appears in the New York Times on Mondays.

It's a must-read if you're in this business, and a good read if you're not.

Carr has also just written a book. It's called The Night of the Gun.

It's got big-time buzz. An excerpt was showcased on the cover of The New York Times Magazine this past Sunday.

The Night of the Gun chronicles Carr's years as a drug user and dealer. He drank a whole lot and abused women, and that's in there too. In this very dark memoir, Carr also runs us through his many arrests and stretches in rehab.

I won't give away the ending, or the middle either, except to say The Night of the Gun is unsettling from the jump, and the misery only worsens as you go.


Not all that long ago, before writers had to embrace the language of wikis and RSS feeds to stay employable, there was only the story.

If you could report, tell a story with a degree of eloquence and (maybe most of all) get it in on time, your star would rise.

It may sound simple enough, but writing is difficult and solitary work--not as soul-draining as hustling timeshares or working for Homeland Security, maybe, but ball-breakingly hard.


Start reading The Night of the Gun, and you won't stop.

Carr's a first-rate writer, a gifted storyteller, and his book is the proof.

"Supply," he writes, "is the only issue of moment to an addict. Running low, riding high, all things in reach of an addict are subject to entropy--money, humor, the milk of human kindness--but the inventory of mood-altering chemicals serves as the maypole of every waking day."

There are, however, points along the way where you will think exactly this: What. An. Asshole.


To succeed as a writer--putting aside for now the ever evolving task of writing for "multiple platforms"--you need to master time management, pick topics that soar above the mundane and be enterprising, daring and ready to leap when opportunity surfaces.

Or you can screw all that, and take the advice Dr. Hunter S. Thompson once spewed: "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

Then again, Dr. Thompson, whose groundbreaking fear-and-loathings should get him inducted in the journalistic hall of fame first ballot, stopped writing anything of value well before his time and then blew his brains out.

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1. Tom T. said... on Jul 23, 2008 at 08:27PM

“"That NYT took a chance on Carr shows just how deep his talent runs." Or it, hmm, suggests some quality control issues at the Times.”

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2. nelle bird said... on Jul 27, 2008 at 05:58PM

“integrity in the work place...a fascinating issue in any field, of that I am certain. Well chosen topic, and it satiates...lets face it; what writer doesn't want to write about writing? cheers.”

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