Sunday, June 15, 2014

Review of NEEDLE by Craig Jordan Goodman

Nancy Reagan Made Him Do It

This memoir by a self-centered former drug addict shows that even decades after kicking his assorted addictions, Craig Goodman still does not take responsibility for his life, his choices.

It has been said that the problem with middle-class tragedy is that the “hero” has no place to fall from. White and well-off, Goodman had a good start despite a difficult childhood. Absolving his abusive mother of responsibility, Goodman instead blames Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say ‘No’” anti-drug campaign for his becoming an addict, due to his lack of knowledge that drugs can addict their users. Who knew? At the end of the memoir– which covers his disastrous years of addiction to marijuana, heroin, methadone, and cocaine– he tells about his return to New York and his disappointment at the greed he finds there supported by the Republican Bloomberg administration.

How different from greed was his own fixation on acquiring drugs to feed his habit and on acquiring fame through the possible success of the CD album he and his band mates were producing, despite his repeated failures to do his share? Is chasing after celebrity any less odious than chasing after money and things?

What did Goodman contribute to others, except as a sometimes waiter, frequently fired, in a succession of restaurants in New York City? Meanwhile, he was involved in selling goods fraudulently taken with another person’s credit cards and selling or hocking his stuff and that of his friends. It could have been worse, as he did not resort to violence to steal from others.

He had a voice good enough to be a singer for the CD. He has the talent to write well and interestingly. His memory must be prodigious, if the array of decades-old facts in the memoir are correct. He could have been happier and more of a contributor than the low-life junkie that he became during this period of his life.

In his sequel, which I am not likely to bother with, he proposes to tell us how his life straightened out. His post-script mentions a daughter, a good sign, and he is dedicating what profits he derives from the book to the welfare of abandoned pets. He can’t be all bad.

You and I knew enough not to get hooked on drugs. We just said “No!”

If we did not have the sense not to start, we did not blame our addiction on someone else.

The book is a cautionary tale, about drugs and about the pursuit of fame and money, about self-delusion. It gives the reader a detailed view of the compulsive yet thoughtless life of the middle-class addict.

As Socrates advised, “know thyself.” Readers desiring to know Craig Goodman will have to read between the lines.

 

No comments:

Post a Comment