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Mike Doughty first came to prominence as the leader of the band Soul Coughing then did an abrupt sonic left turn, much to the surprise of his audience, transforming into a solo performer of stark, dusky, but strangely hopeful tunes. He battled addiction, gave up fame when his old band was at the height of its popularity, drove thousands of miles, alone, across America, wit Mike Doughty first came to prominence as the leader of the band Soul Coughing then did an abrupt sonic left turn, much to the surprise of his audience, transforming into a solo performer of stark, dusky, but strangely hopeful tunes. He battled addiction, gave up fame when his old band was at the height of its popularity, drove thousands of miles, alone, across America, with just an acoustic guitar. His candid, hilarious, self-lacerating memoir, The Book of Drugs -- featuring cameos by Redman, Ani DiFranco, the late Jeff Buckley, and others -- is the story of his band's rise and bitter collapse, the haunted and darkly comical life of addiction, and the perhaps even weirder world of recovery.


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Mike Doughty first came to prominence as the leader of the band Soul Coughing then did an abrupt sonic left turn, much to the surprise of his audience, transforming into a solo performer of stark, dusky, but strangely hopeful tunes. He battled addiction, gave up fame when his old band was at the height of its popularity, drove thousands of miles, alone, across America, wit Mike Doughty first came to prominence as the leader of the band Soul Coughing then did an abrupt sonic left turn, much to the surprise of his audience, transforming into a solo performer of stark, dusky, but strangely hopeful tunes. He battled addiction, gave up fame when his old band was at the height of its popularity, drove thousands of miles, alone, across America, with just an acoustic guitar. His candid, hilarious, self-lacerating memoir, The Book of Drugs -- featuring cameos by Redman, Ani DiFranco, the late Jeff Buckley, and others -- is the story of his band's rise and bitter collapse, the haunted and darkly comical life of addiction, and the perhaps even weirder world of recovery.

30 review for The Book of Drugs: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bkwyrm

    I regret reading this book. I picked it up because I was a fan of Mr. Doughty. I can honestly say that after reading this, I'm not a fan anymore. And I'm sort of sorry I ever was. This is what I took away from The Book of Drugs: Mike Doughty hates himself, hates everyone he's ever worked with, hates his family, hates his (former) fans, hates his (former) band, hates people who do/did drugs, hates people who didn't do drugs, hates people in recovery, hates people not in recovery, hates people in t I regret reading this book. I picked it up because I was a fan of Mr. Doughty. I can honestly say that after reading this, I'm not a fan anymore. And I'm sort of sorry I ever was. This is what I took away from The Book of Drugs: Mike Doughty hates himself, hates everyone he's ever worked with, hates his family, hates his (former) fans, hates his (former) band, hates people who do/did drugs, hates people who didn't do drugs, hates people in recovery, hates people not in recovery, hates people in the US, hates people in other countries, hates women he's fucked, hates women he didn't fuck, hates his ex-girlfriends, hates his former friends and his former roommates, hates pretty much everyone he's ever come into contact with. Reading the reviews of this book, I'm astonished by the number of people who claim to have enjoyed this book, and say that they're an "even bigger fan" of Mr. Doughty than they were before just blows me away. Did we read the same book? The sad part is that I was a huge fan of Mr. Doughty's work, until I read this book. And now I feel kind of stupid for enjoying the work that he apparently loathed making, hated writing, and resented recording. I liked his solo stuff, too, and attended a number of his shows, but I won't be back. It may be his right to publish a memoir this full of vitriol and bitterness, but it's my right to decide that someone so chock-full of loathing for the entire human race is maybe not someone I want to support in his creative efforts, now that I know how he feels about us. I'm sure there was some compelling reason that he felt he had to write this book in this way, but as a former fan, I have to say that the only thing it did was expose him as a petty, bitter man with nothing nice to say about anyone, including himself.

  2. 5 out of 5

    susie

    Pardon the rambling, this one's a tough one for me. In addition to reading this memoir (which alternates between typically Doughty-ish wit and sincerely jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching resentment and struggle) my beloved cat/companion of 14 years passed away this week in my arms. The combination of the two experiences has created this cocktail of gloom for me; longing for the pre-pain past, a simpler time, when Peechee (my cat) was new to me, a surreal addition to my life and death wasn't imminent, a Pardon the rambling, this one's a tough one for me. In addition to reading this memoir (which alternates between typically Doughty-ish wit and sincerely jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching resentment and struggle) my beloved cat/companion of 14 years passed away this week in my arms. The combination of the two experiences has created this cocktail of gloom for me; longing for the pre-pain past, a simpler time, when Peechee (my cat) was new to me, a surreal addition to my life and death wasn't imminent, and when Doughty's old band changed my life by treating me -- a kid -- like I was someone special worth knowing, infusing my life with ambition, feeling acceptance and always having something to look forward to. Doughty has a way with words, it's undeniable and anyone who ever listened to his music or knows him can pick up on that. He uses a turn of phrase with absolute precision to divulge every piece of information about that moment with simplicity and style; his writing style is completely unique to him, heavy with rapid-fire pop culture references, cleverness and self-depricating honesty, and it's extremely satisfying. I'll also say this: It's really surreal to read the autobiography of someone you know, to say "oh yeah, I remember that answering machine" or "ah yes, I remember that day" - Much of the hardest time in his life coincides with my memories of the happiest times in my own; I've met some of my best friends through his old band and until reading this book, I was under the mistaken impression he did, too. Because of that discrepancy between perceptions, it can be hard as a reader to rectify the difference between our shared experiences with the music and that time. For example, when Doughty laments the awfulness of a song sounding like four people fighting for space, each trying to get their hook in the spotlight, I actually remember that quality being one of the things I loved about the band most, the energy of SO MUCH going on every second. As a friend and fan, it's troubling to hear how caustic and abusive the relationships were among the band, when each member [and management] never showed *me* anything but kindness (especially Mike, who was apparently in a world of pain though I never knew it.) But this isn't a book about my experience or it'd be called The Book of Susie. It's also troubling to hear of the hard time he had carving a space out for himself as a solo artist, plagued with self-doubt and struggle and rejection [though perhaps that's the story of every artist - certainly my experience as well.] To read about the scary role drugs played in his life, and to read about the relationships that, to put it mildly, were chronically troubled. To read about the insane fans who left him feeling both isolated and validated almost simultaneously. To read about the misery of touring - he sounds like he is operating from a vacuum anytime he wasn't home, with no attachment to anyone or anything. I feel bad that the person I know has gone through so much, felt so alone so much of the time. But reading this, as probably reading anyone's diary would have the same effect, it's hard to rectify that this even *is* the same person I know. Throughout the book - even when he describes more recent times - when he talks about women, his perceptions of them and his treatment of them, it actually makes me nauseous. It's well-written and extremely engaging, but it definitely changes events as I remember them, and that's painful probably for everyone involved, reader and author both. If you're a Mike Doughty and/or a Soul Coughing music fan, you know what you're going to get from this book and it lives up to expectations - Doughty's writing is consistent as always and the events are never what you thought they were. If you're not familiar, though, first go out and listen to the music, have your own perception of the music and the lyrics and THEN read this book. After reading this, there's no separating the two again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Imogen

    I want to thank Mike Doughty for spelling the word "come" - meaning, "have a sexual orgasm" - correctly. I want to thank Mike Doughty for spelling the word "come" - meaning, "have a sexual orgasm" - correctly.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    If I were to say, break loose of my handlers, (those people who feel, however warranted it may seem, that I need constant overseeing less I make some terrible life altering decision that they don’t approve of) and I were to create a what are they called---post? Entry? Ad? on Craig’s List for a ‘mate’, it might read something like this: Wanted: Emotionally damaged man-boy, preferably in early 40s so that my clever references are not wasted; must have a sordid drug history and be totally crippled f If I were to say, break loose of my handlers, (those people who feel, however warranted it may seem, that I need constant overseeing less I make some terrible life altering decision that they don’t approve of) and I were to create a what are they called---post? Entry? Ad? on Craig’s List for a ‘mate’, it might read something like this: Wanted: Emotionally damaged man-boy, preferably in early 40s so that my clever references are not wasted; must have a sordid drug history and be totally crippled from it, most likely will be a musician as well as a dick, because, yeah, really… that’s the ‘type’, who needs a severely lacking self-esteem woman/mother/enabler/caretaker/housekeeper to keep up the appearances that they are participating in a functional, albeit, lacking in quality life. Thankfully, said handlers have most likely hacked my email and my brain and have put the kibosh on such destructive activity. But, they can’t stop me from reading a book about it. I am absolutely in love with Mike Doughty. This statement will not be a surprise to anyone who knows me and who knows how easily I fall in love with people. Especially broken whiny alternadude guitar wielding songwriters. Oh, I just want to wrap them in my snuggie and let them suckle from my teat. I will support you, I will put up with you sleeping with other girls, I will buy you that $10,000 guitar you’ve been eyeing. Because, I am a Loser. That’s the first lesson I learned from this book. I am a pathetic loser who crushes on guys that would treat me like ass and then break up with me because why on earth would someone want to be with someone like them? They must be fucked up. And, it hurt. It hurt a lot. I mean, really, c’mon… I should have learned this lesson like 25 years ago, but I held out hope. Like a big ol’ dummy. Mike Doughty is 5 months and 11 days older than me. He is an addict, he screwed a lot of people, he was screwed by a lot of people, he didn’t believe in the clichés (I mean, who does, right?) We lived in NYC at roughly the same time. He used to score at the same spot that my husband used to score at around the same time. They probably passed each other on the street as they hot footed it home to nirvana. Mike got clean, stopped being screwed over by people and ventured out on his own, creating his own nirvana, one 12 step meeting at a time. Then he wrote a memoir and here we are. His sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll memoir is matter of fact. I think you learn that in the ‘rooms’ (12 step meetings) Do not glorify anything. Do not use adjectives or adverbs or any of that crazy stuff Schoolhouse Rock taught you. Say it like it is. “I’m telling my memories with scrupulous precision, while scared that the mind is unreliable.” But, because I love M. Doughty for all the reasons that my Craig List ad states… I also love that he came out of it and he showed that you don’t have to stay broken. That you can still feel broken and still feel like a lump of shit but that those days come and go and if you concentrate on the little things in living… the daily function of living… that beautiful things can happen. Ok, roll your eyes; say that he is just a whiny alternadude rocker writing the same 4 songs over and over again… he’ll most likely agree with you. But, when he writes lines like ‘I will prevail for you. Behind the mic I’m burning to.’ I just become a puddle. I big dumb loser puddle. I’ve seen him perform twice in my little borough of Burlington, VT. He’s coming back in May and I am schoolgirl giddy and I will sit in the 3rd row and not look at him and lip sync every song and wish that I could be… oh nectarine you’re the one who coax the darkness out of me oh nectarine you’re the one that shows the ghost to me don't gaslight me oh nectarine lets run away from life and pass the can cash on demand oh nectarine let's burn and build and burn without a plan let's ditch the van happiness is coming for you happiness is coming for you when you sleep when your dreaming on your face what your feeling oh nectarine are you free to lay the daylight out of me relentlessly oh yes i am I truly am a true and trusted man and we're on the lamb

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a tough book to recommend. If you like stories about rock and roll debauchery, Book of Drugs won't disappoint, but Soul Coughing, by the author's own admission, is a very minor band, which limits it appeal. If you like stories about recovery, you might find Doughty's approach more alarming than assuaging. Flinchingly honest account of one man's journey through drug abuse, addiction and recovery. I twisted the cliche because Doughty is like most addicts: neither courageous nor consistent, This is a tough book to recommend. If you like stories about rock and roll debauchery, Book of Drugs won't disappoint, but Soul Coughing, by the author's own admission, is a very minor band, which limits it appeal. If you like stories about recovery, you might find Doughty's approach more alarming than assuaging. Flinchingly honest account of one man's journey through drug abuse, addiction and recovery. I twisted the cliche because Doughty is like most addicts: neither courageous nor consistent, nor is he stalwart or straightforward. But when it comes to his art: he is all of these things, and I came through Book of Drugs with a great deal of respect and admiration for its author. Clever, cheerfully mordant, and as economical as a butcher, Doughty is an engaging storyteller. There isn't much in the way of tricks or gimmicks: no chapter breaks, few quotes, haphazard use of quotation marks, forays into other forms like travelogue, etc. The Book of Drugs is essentially modular with short anecdote after anecdote more or less chronologically arranged, yet Doughty is masterful at manipulating time to suit his purposes. The result is a readable, engaging book that's frequently laugh out loud funny and difficult to put down.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    A little too much about how much he hates his ex-bandmates and a lot too much about all the women he fucked, but this book is actually well-written -- thoughtful, plainspoken without being choppy, quiet and unassuming, but also honestly laugh-out-loud funny at over half a dozen points. There's a sense of perspective you don't get in so many of today's sobriety memoirs -- the pattern seems to be: get mildly/somewhat/very famous, get sobered up, get book deal. As a result a lot of sobriety memoirs A little too much about how much he hates his ex-bandmates and a lot too much about all the women he fucked, but this book is actually well-written -- thoughtful, plainspoken without being choppy, quiet and unassuming, but also honestly laugh-out-loud funny at over half a dozen points. There's a sense of perspective you don't get in so many of today's sobriety memoirs -- the pattern seems to be: get mildly/somewhat/very famous, get sobered up, get book deal. As a result a lot of sobriety memoirs are written by people in their first three or so years clean. Typically, that's when you have the most energy, the most commitment to meetings, your eyes are bright and your tail is bushy indeed. It's partly just what happens, and mostly it's the narrative the marketing department finds acceptable, but a lot of times the storyline tends to be as predictable as a VH1 Behind the Music special: work your way up, explosion of fame and money, sudden bad habits, the long precipitous drop, and then, the comeback!, complete with reunion CD. Thomas Mallon wrote once about the difference between real epiphanies and de rigeur "manufactured" ones -- in the recovery industry, there can be a lot of manufactured ones. This book is a lot deeper and more meaningful - dare I say profound? - than that. Also complex and funny, as suits the man who used one of his Cymbalta pills as a mini-shaker on an album, and who wrote this (maybe my favourite song of his): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC7X6n...#

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I'm a hundred pages into this and trying to decide whether to stick it out. Because here's the thing: I like Soul Coughing's music. I really like Mike Doughty's music. But it turns out that I really, really don't like MIKE DOUGHTY. And I don't know if I should keep reading, and hope that there is some sort of turnaround where I feel like I haven't wasted the time and money I spent on this book trying to fight back the indignant rage that is festering inside me as I read it, or if I should chuck I'm a hundred pages into this and trying to decide whether to stick it out. Because here's the thing: I like Soul Coughing's music. I really like Mike Doughty's music. But it turns out that I really, really don't like MIKE DOUGHTY. And I don't know if I should keep reading, and hope that there is some sort of turnaround where I feel like I haven't wasted the time and money I spent on this book trying to fight back the indignant rage that is festering inside me as I read it, or if I should chuck it aside and chalk it up to 90 minutes of listening to someone whine and complain about how they've been wronged by everyone they ever met, which I have done in person more than once. Dude is bitter and petulant, shitting on everyone for what he feels are heinous crimes committed against him and his rise to fame, ranging from tiny slights (bandmate stole his Bollywood music tape from the van!) to big things (band demanded equal pay when HE was clearly the star!) Possible unreliable drug-addled memory aside, in a hundred pages I have not seen one single reason this guy deserved to be treated with any sort of kindness to begin with--even before his addiction. According to him, his family are a bunch of assholes, the band is a bunch of assholes, the business is filled with assholes, the girls he slept with were a bunch of assholes, and it's quite possible that before the end he will have told me that I am an asshole for bothering to read this book to begin with. What's that saying? If you meet five assholes a day, then you're the asshole? Well, yeah.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I've been a fan of Mike's for years. I saw Soul Coughing on their first tour, and have seen every show of his in my town up until a few years ago when I could no longer afford to. I was a user on his website, followed his blog and I purchased this book on pre-order. While I really enjoyed his style of writing and word choice, I have little to no respect for him after reading this book. He comes off as an arrogant prick and while he writes about feeling insecure, it is obviously not the case anym I've been a fan of Mike's for years. I saw Soul Coughing on their first tour, and have seen every show of his in my town up until a few years ago when I could no longer afford to. I was a user on his website, followed his blog and I purchased this book on pre-order. While I really enjoyed his style of writing and word choice, I have little to no respect for him after reading this book. He comes off as an arrogant prick and while he writes about feeling insecure, it is obviously not the case anymore. I'm glad he got clean and turned his life around, sure, but some of his descriptions of the women he's been with or the countries he's been to are quite off-putting. I will still enjoy his older music, but I think it's time he and I parted ways until he checks his privilege.

  9. 5 out of 5

    G.d. Brennan

    I might be a little biased, but I enjoyed this book tremendously. I’m probably one of the few people in my age bracket (mid-30s) who came across Mike Doughty neither through his band Soul Coughing, nor through his solo career, nor through his writing, but because I knew his father, who was head of the history department at West Point when I was a cadet, and who coached me through my senior thesis. The elder Doughty, now a retired general, was (and is) a tremendously respected historian, one of th I might be a little biased, but I enjoyed this book tremendously. I’m probably one of the few people in my age bracket (mid-30s) who came across Mike Doughty neither through his band Soul Coughing, nor through his solo career, nor through his writing, but because I knew his father, who was head of the history department at West Point when I was a cadet, and who coached me through my senior thesis. The elder Doughty, now a retired general, was (and is) a tremendously respected historian, one of the world’s leading authorities on the fall of France in 1940. During the year I studied under him, I don’t recall him mentioning that he had a relatively famous son who’d had substantial success as a musician in New York. I only heard about Mike later, in the late summer of 2000, when I wasn’t a cadet anymore; I was headed to New York for grad school, and then-Col. Doughty mentioned that he had a son down there who wrote columns under (as he put it) “the nom de plume ‘Dirty Sanchez.’” (If this sentence is still up, that phrase has somehow avoided the GoodReads censors. Don’t Google it, though, kids. At least, not if you’re at work.) That was the time I most needed to keep my poker face intact in front of Col. Doughty, and in that effort, I missed a larger point. Now, I might be misremembering things after a decade-plus, but he seemed a little proud of his son. And after reading this book, I can see why. Mike Doughty’s musical career, as related here, was improbably meteoric at (for him) a relatively early age. At 23, he cobbled together a motley group of older musicians, started playing regular gigs at clubs like the Knitting Factory, and was, in short order, attracting critical notice from the likes of Rolling Stone and Spin. Despite an assortment of drug habits and poisonous personalities, they recorded a few well-regarded albums and acquired a devoted following, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jeff Buckley, and opening for the Dave Matthews Band. (Disclaimer: Just so I can keep some shred of street cred, I have to say that I’m no big fan of the latter. Still, I can appreciate what a big deal this would have been for an aspiring musician in the late 90s.) And it all fell apart. Here, too, I have a few things in common with the younger Doughty, and more than a passing interest in the book. Without going into too many details, it seems we’ve had some similar experiences, and we’ve been around some similar types of people, both while in active pursuit of chemically-assisted happiness, and later while recovering from those efforts. (I never did an illegal drug—I’m probably the only person in the country for whom “Just Say No” actually worked—but we’ve both presumably learned that the particulars of addiction matter little, compared to the similarities in thinking and feeling.) His writing on the topic’s clear and sharp, with plenty of good insights; addicts and alcoholics all become more and more alike as their disease progresses and they throw out or avoid whatever’s getting in the way of their addiction; while they’re usually convinced what they’re doing is an essential part of life, their life gets smaller and smaller as everything else gets stripped away—in Doughty’s case, living as a virtual shut-in, making painfully slow trips to the ATM so he could pay the Dr. Feelgoods who made house calls, then kicking heroin only to drink the days away in a string of soulless hotel rooms while starting his solo career. But there’s more to this memoir than music and addiction; Doughty’s a great writer, with a sharp eye and a wonderfully dry sense of humor. Describing a trip to a psychiatrist, for instance, he says it was in “one of those doorman buildings on the Upper West Side with shrinks in every nook on the first five floors. If you go to a certain part of the Bowery, around Delancey Street, every other building has a lighting store; there’s a part of Hell’s Kitchen that’s all wholesale gardening supplies; there’s an area on Broadway around Twentieth Street filled with stores selling hair for weaves. As there is the lamp district, the flower district, and the wig district, so there is the shrink district.” Like everyone in recovery, Doughty’s a work in progress, and his lingering resentments towards family members and former bandmates still pepper the narrative. But these are generally leavened with humility and honesty, and a willingness to at least try and see the big picture—the broad and expansive view of one’s life that only happens when we get outside the cramped confines of our minds. About his father, for instance, he discusses the tensions and the frustrations of living in a demanding and perfectionistic household, but he also relates the loving care with which his father repaired his broken guitar when he was a teenager, and points out that he has to choose which things to focus on. In short, he sounds like he’s reached some level of peace with his family, his past, and himself. (I couldn’t help but notice while reading this that the first time then-Col. Doughty mentioned his son to me was also the first time I’d talked to him after his son started getting clean.) Like the better recovery memoirists, Doughty’s not just interested in chronicling the squalor and degradation that come from living like a rockstar—he’s also writing about the change of attitude that has to happen afterwards to live, period.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Part review, part confession. Thanks to my ex Krystyn putting 'True Dreams of Wichita' on a mixtape in 1995, I was and am a Soul Coughing nerd. I mean, NERD. I managed to see them four times locally before they broke up, I slummed with the 'bass player' before a Boulder show, I went to a CD release party an hour early because I thought I would be crowded. (it wasn't.) It took me a long time to appreciate Doughty's solo career. His music skewed in a different direction and it didn't speak to me in Part review, part confession. Thanks to my ex Krystyn putting 'True Dreams of Wichita' on a mixtape in 1995, I was and am a Soul Coughing nerd. I mean, NERD. I managed to see them four times locally before they broke up, I slummed with the 'bass player' before a Boulder show, I went to a CD release party an hour early because I thought I would be crowded. (it wasn't.) It took me a long time to appreciate Doughty's solo career. His music skewed in a different direction and it didn't speak to me in the same way. A month or two back I found out that Doughty was publishing a memoir, and I said to myself "I am on that shit like syrup on pancakes". Who else but me would preorder that? And read it virtually in one evening? Well, you all might not preorder it but it's very readable if you like MD or the band. Except... This book will shatter your Soul Coughing fandom and pee on it. I really had no idea that there was so much acrimony between Doughty and the other members (whom he does not name). Nasty, acid acrimony. Enough acrimony that I had to pause midway through the worst part and go WOAH, that's a bit much. The book stops being about drugs for a stretch. I figure that the truth is halfway between his vision and their vision and the drugs are to blame. Or not. Anyhow, the fan in me was happy to discover the origins of song titles and lyrics embedded in the text, and the fan was thinking to himself, I was at THAT show, and THERE is where I was in my life when all of this happened, and THIS is what was actually going on behind the scenes. Here I am now, and there is Mike Doughty, and he is better, and I like his solo stuff more after all these years. The happiest ending to these rock memoirs is 'still here'.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    I'm not usually one to pick up a memoir, and I would approach the drug confession of a rock star with even more trepidation, but Mike Doughty has been a writer for almost as long as he's been a musician, so his book, more than just being a chronicle of his fall and recovery, contains real literary merit. It starts out with an almost anecdotal format, little stories of Doughty's young life given to us in short sections, sometimes less than a page. These little stories range from the amusing to the I'm not usually one to pick up a memoir, and I would approach the drug confession of a rock star with even more trepidation, but Mike Doughty has been a writer for almost as long as he's been a musician, so his book, more than just being a chronicle of his fall and recovery, contains real literary merit. It starts out with an almost anecdotal format, little stories of Doughty's young life given to us in short sections, sometimes less than a page. These little stories range from the amusing to the illuminating, and are probably most interesting because of the insider perspective they offer. This anecdotal technique may have gone on a little long for my taste, but they remained amusing, so I wasn't too off-put by it. I guess it's only a complaint because it delayed the meat of the memoir, Doughty's honest and raw recounting of his drug use. Let me explain what I mean by "honest." Doughty doesn't try to make drug use sexy, and at the same time he doesn't play up the tragedy of his situation. In effect, he says, simply, this is my situation, sometimes it was funny, sometimes it was sad, but this was it. He doesn't try to portray himself as a martyr. He doesn't treat his recovery as a miracle. In a way, the book is the chronicle of Doughty's quest for confidence. He shows us a hatred (my word, not his) for his old band-mates that didn't sit well with me, and it wasn't until I considered the source of his hatred that I sympathized. He wasn't mad at them for being lousy collaborators. He was mad at them because they crushed his ego and prevented him from developing as person. Whether Doughty's interpretation of those events is valid or not doesn't matter, because his feelings regarding them are the only truth available. I can't imagine a more honest memoir. Doughty is honest with himself, and that's what makes his book more than just a recounting of personal history. It's an attempt at understanding, and finally, a revelation that understanding may never come.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    dear m. doughty, i don't care that you hate soul coughing. i don't care that you fucked, like, 50 women at least on several tours. i don't care that you played most of those shows with soul coughing high. i don't care that you were a bad boyfriend. i don't care that you yelled at some interview kid at some college show. i don't care that you were a junkie plus addicted to a shitload of other drugs. i don't care that you talk badly about your friend that died a tragic, but possibly stupid, death. dear m. doughty, i don't care that you hate soul coughing. i don't care that you fucked, like, 50 women at least on several tours. i don't care that you played most of those shows with soul coughing high. i don't care that you were a bad boyfriend. i don't care that you yelled at some interview kid at some college show. i don't care that you were a junkie plus addicted to a shitload of other drugs. i don't care that you talk badly about your friend that died a tragic, but possibly stupid, death. i do care that you are still alive. i do care that you are still playing your own music. i do care that you wrote this fucking awesome truthful book. not many people would have been so honest with their own selves, much less publish a book about it. i totally would have given this 5 stars but sometimes i got confused with the timeline. you were with sally but then there was a passage about mumlow and i couldn't figure out where the point of reference was. in the beginning the pieces felt like a cut and paste book of memories. they were so compelling i ended up not caring. i also have a huge crush on you for no reason, really, especially reading all these horrible stories about your mistreatment of women. maybe i just have a thing for great troubadours with depreciating senses of humor and penchants for writing brutally truthful books. some people try their whole lives to get one true line. i also thank you for mentioning king tubby and also a tribe called quest. and thanks for writing this book for pulling the curtain back from the filthy music industry.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I'm one of those Soul Coughing fans whom former lead singer Mike Doughty predicted would be heartbroken by this book. I really wasn't prepared for the level of hatred that Doughty has for his old band members and life style. That said, it was weirdly fun to relive the 90s vicariously through the former drug addict, rock star, club doorman and NY Press writer. I particularly liked figuring out who his mystery characters were...for example, the "rock legend" who gets him through his early days of I'm one of those Soul Coughing fans whom former lead singer Mike Doughty predicted would be heartbroken by this book. I really wasn't prepared for the level of hatred that Doughty has for his old band members and life style. That said, it was weirdly fun to relive the 90s vicariously through the former drug addict, rock star, club doorman and NY Press writer. I particularly liked figuring out who his mystery characters were...for example, the "rock legend" who gets him through his early days of 12-step programs was none other than the legendary David Johansen. Still, the book made me sad, thinking about regrets and misspent youth. It also made me dig out the old albums to give them a re-listen (much of it still stands) and look for some of his current solo stuff to compare and contrast.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    When the subject of a memoir is as unlikeable as Mike Doughty turned out to be, it's pretty hard to get past that. The endless griping about old bandmates combined with the belief that Soul Coughing could've been super successful if only they would've let him run the show turn this book into a real eye-roller. Women are nothing more than penis ornaments—well, except "Molly Escalator" who sounds a lot like Maggie Estep. The book's editor is also at fault. Contradictions abound and the timeline is When the subject of a memoir is as unlikeable as Mike Doughty turned out to be, it's pretty hard to get past that. The endless griping about old bandmates combined with the belief that Soul Coughing could've been super successful if only they would've let him run the show turn this book into a real eye-roller. Women are nothing more than penis ornaments—well, except "Molly Escalator" who sounds a lot like Maggie Estep. The book's editor is also at fault. Contradictions abound and the timeline is all over the place and not in any way that makes sense. But mostly it's the unrelenting bitterness that spoils this effort. Doughty's old columns for the NY Press were always entertaining; this is excruciating.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cadin

    Kind of rambling and choppy. There could have been a few main themes or stories used to tie everything together more. It was interesting to read about his experience with his bandmates. I never knew their relationship was so adversarial.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    I had hoped for something with a bit more literary flair, given Doughty’s proclivity for turning a mean lyric. The book’s final act was my favorite, and perhaps intentionally, the one I found most well-composed. I can’t really recommend this book to fans of Soul Coughing or MD’s solo work. There just isn’t much to capture the imagination.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Hyland

    I know Mike Doughty as the lead singer of Soul Coughing, and his nasal, sarcastic voice instantly brings me back to the '90s, hanging out with hipsters, going to poetry readings. I named a cat Ruby Vroom, after one of their albums. He narrates the audiobook and is a confident and engaging narrator; I was hooked immediately. Maybe it's unfair to consider this '90s nostalgia porn since he's still a working solo artist, but that's what it is for me; I honestly don't really know his solo stuff (or ev I know Mike Doughty as the lead singer of Soul Coughing, and his nasal, sarcastic voice instantly brings me back to the '90s, hanging out with hipsters, going to poetry readings. I named a cat Ruby Vroom, after one of their albums. He narrates the audiobook and is a confident and engaging narrator; I was hooked immediately. Maybe it's unfair to consider this '90s nostalgia porn since he's still a working solo artist, but that's what it is for me; I honestly don't really know his solo stuff (or even much Soul Coughing beyond Ruby Vroom). And hey, there is plenty of '90s nostalgia, including hanging out with Jeff Buckley and seeing early shows from Elliott Smith and The Magnetic Fields. I don't consider him excessively name droppy, only mentioning people he had genuine interactions with, often just calling someone "the singer of a British band" to protect identities. In most biographies of bands, the members are childhood or college friends before they start playing music together. There's usually this vibe of, like, "These hungry kids just somehow found each other in this crazy world, and the rest is history." The formation of Soul Coughing was a purely professional endeavor, like a group of studio musicians. The other members of the band were far more accomplished than Doughty and regularly rub it in his face, arguing over who knows more musical terms, etc. The drama in the band is not so much personal, per se ("you've changed, man," stealing girlfriends, etc.). It comes across more like the grind of petty irritations, like co-workers bickering about whose turn it is to clean the break room microwave. So, basically, there was no love to lose, there. In the bandmates' defense, it's not hard to imagine how an addict prone to fits of rage could be a bit difficult to get along with. We only have his side. But then again, such is the nature of autobiography, and he does make an effort to be objective, calling himself an asshole or a shitty boyfriend as a particular story warrants. He is now sober and talking about the bad old days, after all. The rest of the book is a narrative of his drug addiction and subsequent recovery and re-inventing his career as a solo artist. He kinda loses me a bit in some of the later chapters, talking about where he was on 09/11 and his sober travel adventures. The entire book is engaging and well written from start to finish - it's the first book in a while I had a hard time putting down, actually. I did feel after a while like the random stories were just random rather than illuminating who he was as a person, though. All in all, I enjoyed the hell out of this and will have to check out his solo work and other writings.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Bunge

    If you are (currently) a fan of Soul Coughing DO NOT READ THIS BOOK - it will break your heart. Not because Mike Doughty was victimized by his bandmates and the industry, but because he somehow blames the fans of the music for this. I waited two months to write this review, because I've been a fan of M.Doughty for a long time, been to several of his solo concerts over the years, bought his solo albums. My father has worked in drug and alcohol counseling, so I understand the victim mentality. I hav If you are (currently) a fan of Soul Coughing DO NOT READ THIS BOOK - it will break your heart. Not because Mike Doughty was victimized by his bandmates and the industry, but because he somehow blames the fans of the music for this. I waited two months to write this review, because I've been a fan of M.Doughty for a long time, been to several of his solo concerts over the years, bought his solo albums. My father has worked in drug and alcohol counseling, so I understand the victim mentality. I have clinical depression, have lots of friends who've used substances to cope, and at this point, Doughty, if you're still at the place you were when you wrote this book, dude, you need a better counselor or therapist. Because you have a lot of anger issues and need to let some of this shit go. Get some cognitive behavioral therapy to move forward. I can understand getting upset at fans who want to hear old music that you want to put behind you, but until you SAY PUBLICLY that things ended badly, and you don't want to play it because of bad blood, you don't get to be mad at people who make your artistic lifestyle (D-grade or otherwise) possible. Unless you're refusing all your royalties (yeah I know that's probably $5 a quarter at this point) you do not get to blame innocent consumers of what you put out there as art (even if it's not what you intended, and you basically lied to everyone involved about your unhappiness with how it turned out for several years). Yeah, drunk bros at shows are shitty, but blaming them for your lack of ability to move past your own hurt isn't appropriate or mature. As a fan of your poetry (yeah, I own two books of it), I also can't get over how callow you are in your relations with women - the way you portray both yourself and them in this book. You have a beautiful mind, but somehow it doesn't translate into action beyond the page. I don't think you respect yourself, so how could you be anything other than sociopathic in your actions with others? I can understand you were being honest with how you feel/felt when you wrote this book, and wanted to get this out there. But the vitriol obviously hasn't passed, but the whole tone of the book is coming off as victim-hood directed outward at the reader and the world. Didn't mean it that way? Should have discussed that with your editor, who obviously can't correct spelling errors or doing something as arbitrary as force chapter markings on your artistic intentions, or warn you that objectively, this whole book portrays you as a very selfish, angry and unhappy person (not just in the past, but now too). The whole book made me want to throw up.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ardyth

    You know those people we used to call "too cool for school"? The ones who manage to make you feel bad about yourself, usually without actively doing anything yet often rooted in liking a thing they -- in their infinite wisdom -- have determined to be "lame." (I guess the term these days might be "basic") In my teens and twenties, I had a lot of angst about these people. I, too, wanted to be cool... but I mistrusted this crowd. Something about their energy convinced me that they secretly hated me, You know those people we used to call "too cool for school"? The ones who manage to make you feel bad about yourself, usually without actively doing anything yet often rooted in liking a thing they -- in their infinite wisdom -- have determined to be "lame." (I guess the term these days might be "basic") In my teens and twenties, I had a lot of angst about these people. I, too, wanted to be cool... but I mistrusted this crowd. Something about their energy convinced me that they secretly hated me, for unknown reasons, and that anything I said or did would be mocked when I wasn't around. So I was, at most, on the fringe of the cool circles. It probably didn't help that I was pretty square, at least by their standards... mostly sticking to the very vanilla legal booze as my drug of choice. Over the decades, now and then I have briefly wondered whether I was paranoid. Should I have put myself out there more? They probably needed a real friend, right? Be more compassionate. Be present. Be optimistic. Mike Doughty has cured me of that second-guessing, I think. I like his music (and that of Soul Coughing) and reading almost half of this book hasn't changed that... it's just reinforced that the fringe was the best place for me. That self-loathing that builds into self-destruction ... prevailing feelings of disgust at literally everyone around them... the inability or unwillingness to put oneself in another person's shoes... the neverending weakness and fear that leads to callous and often cruel behavior -- it's all here. Utter self-absorption told baldly. And I'm glad my gut instincts limited, at least a bit, how much all this touched me. I haven't finished a celebrity autobio since 1995 or 1996 (Lauren Bacall, if you're curious, and yeah I sobbed when Bogie died). It's not a genre that interests me, but "Unsingable Name" was a personal anthem of sorts & I'll always love Doughty's noughties era work in progress performance of whatever-it-was with the fake word bridge. His style here of jumping from memory to memory without transition held my interest for quite a while, as my memories work that way, too -- but I'm done. /shrug A sad man, a sad life (the part I read at least). And yet I find myself without much sympathy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    That voice! (I listened to the audiobook, because... duh!) I honestly hated "Screenwriter's Blues" when I first heard it on KROQ in LA in '95, but was blown away by "Super Bon Bon" on the radio up in SF (Live 105?) several years later, and then got heavily into their entire catalog, due in large part to that rattly voice and its non-sequiturs. This book started off really strong with some I-shouldn't-be-laughing family history, and a juxataposed "straightlaced" upbringing at West Point before movi That voice! (I listened to the audiobook, because... duh!) I honestly hated "Screenwriter's Blues" when I first heard it on KROQ in LA in '95, but was blown away by "Super Bon Bon" on the radio up in SF (Live 105?) several years later, and then got heavily into their entire catalog, due in large part to that rattly voice and its non-sequiturs. This book started off really strong with some I-shouldn't-be-laughing family history, and a juxataposed "straightlaced" upbringing at West Point before moving to New York City. I wasn't expecting Jeff Buckley to be mentioned in this book at all, let alone be a somewhat prominent character, but they were in the pre-signed "market" together, and there was some interesting perspective on the hauntingly mysterious siren. Then we got to the Soul Coughing era. First thing you notice: he doesn't mention the names of his bandmates, they are defined by their instruments. Maybe he's narrating from his perspective as he meets them (if so, brilliant!), and their relationships will develop...? Oh, they develop alright, into possibly the most dysfunctional band, EVER. I briefly traveled with my friends' band in the 90s, so I'm not speaking from naivete, and I will say that the ridiculous antics he recounts are completely plausible. But it turns out he purposefully will not ever speak their names. Yes, it's that bad. Although of course this is entirely his side of the story, and he is quite honest about his relative lack of musical ability early on, which disgusts his eccentric studio musicians who depend on his eccentric songwriting creativity for a paycheck. He's also honest about himself being miserable as he starts to decline into drugs. But the hate seems insanely excessive so far in the past. Get over it, man. And get over yourself while you're at it. He travels a bit at the end, and he definitely has that comedian's knack for noticing the bizarre we see but don't notice and re-presenting it for laughs or the stoner's "whoa". But I got sick of his recovering addict's "bragging", and his rattling off descriptions of groupies (and hookers) and locations he screwed them felt completely lame.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    When we saw Doughty up in Albany for his Book of Drugs tour, there was a point during one of the Q&A segments where he said "Hey, I'm just a crazy guy!" Not in the Steve Martin wild-and-crazy guy sense, but in the actually crazy sense. He said it very matter-of-factly, too. And my first reaction, as someone steeped in his solo music for a couple of years now, was "Oh, come on. No you're not." There's something deeply sane to me about Mike's music. In his songs, he sounds like someone who is grou When we saw Doughty up in Albany for his Book of Drugs tour, there was a point during one of the Q&A segments where he said "Hey, I'm just a crazy guy!" Not in the Steve Martin wild-and-crazy guy sense, but in the actually crazy sense. He said it very matter-of-factly, too. And my first reaction, as someone steeped in his solo music for a couple of years now, was "Oh, come on. No you're not." There's something deeply sane to me about Mike's music. In his songs, he sounds like someone who is grounded, genuine, warm and wise. How could he be crazy? What's that all about? Well, in the Book of Drugs, that question is answered. Here we see Mike in the grip of mania and depression; we see him in moments of in-your-face anger and then detached resignation. His self-destructive behavior, often erupting through serial addiction to drugs and alcohol, is run down in unsparing detail. And, more striking than anything else, we see a man actively torturing himself with his own past. The stories are by turns poignant, funny, scary and sad. They are never boring. And I think I get where the wisdom and warmth in his music come from now. They were hard earned by a man who lived a large part of his life at the breaking point.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Perhaps my expectations were high. I love Mike Doughty's fabulously jazz-infused poetry, the lyrical element that made Soul Coughing a poetic force, the poetry one still finds in the man's solo efforts. And I had hoped for some sense of the same in this memoir. That was not the case. The Book of Drugs, while revelatory about an artist whom I admire and whose music I still very much enjoy, was - I'm sorry to say - somewhat dull, lackluster in its crafting and construction. And Doughty's smolderin Perhaps my expectations were high. I love Mike Doughty's fabulously jazz-infused poetry, the lyrical element that made Soul Coughing a poetic force, the poetry one still finds in the man's solo efforts. And I had hoped for some sense of the same in this memoir. That was not the case. The Book of Drugs, while revelatory about an artist whom I admire and whose music I still very much enjoy, was - I'm sorry to say - somewhat dull, lackluster in its crafting and construction. And Doughty's smoldering resentments at his former band-mates, unnecessary litany of women with whom he had sex during that time of his life, and often inexplicable and distantly tangential rambling didn't add to its literary merit. I get it - the man needed to tell his story - what it was like, what happened, and what it's like now. Perhaps he just didn't need to publish it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lue

    The Book of Drugs is not your average "rock n' roll/drug" biography. There's very little glamour in this book - no descriptions of wild backstage parties and hookups with groupies. Rather, it's the raw and honest story a young man (with questionable self-esteem) bullied by bandmates and who increasingly used narcotics to nullify the effects of their negativity. Luckily for us, Doughty left the deleterious band (and drugs) behind, to forge a career as a solo musician with songs that are truer ref The Book of Drugs is not your average "rock n' roll/drug" biography. There's very little glamour in this book - no descriptions of wild backstage parties and hookups with groupies. Rather, it's the raw and honest story a young man (with questionable self-esteem) bullied by bandmates and who increasingly used narcotics to nullify the effects of their negativity. Luckily for us, Doughty left the deleterious band (and drugs) behind, to forge a career as a solo musician with songs that are truer reflections of musical intention.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Martira

    I'm a fan of Mike Doughty's solo work but this book is honestly not a great look. He has much to say about being terrorized by his former bandmates and exploited by his record label, but very little introspection on the way he himself used people, particularly women. It becomes really off-putting. Three stars for good writing, insights into the music business in the 1990s, and colorful portraiture of NYC in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. I'm a fan of Mike Doughty's solo work but this book is honestly not a great look. He has much to say about being terrorized by his former bandmates and exploited by his record label, but very little introspection on the way he himself used people, particularly women. It becomes really off-putting. Three stars for good writing, insights into the music business in the 1990s, and colorful portraiture of NYC in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nick Neaton

    Stream of consciousness. No chapters. One story after another. Took me a while to finish it - great ending but it took a while to come around.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    It's the late 90s, and I hear this band that sounds like nothing I have ever heard before. It's a little bit jazzy and a little bit funky and a little bit rap and a little bit soul and a little bit sardonic and a little bit poetic and, well, you get the picture. The drummer is tearing off some awe-inspiringly complicated tempos, the bass player is walking all over a stand up monster, some dweeb on the keys is sampling old-ass pop and blues tunes, answering machine messages, and who knows what al It's the late 90s, and I hear this band that sounds like nothing I have ever heard before. It's a little bit jazzy and a little bit funky and a little bit rap and a little bit soul and a little bit sardonic and a little bit poetic and, well, you get the picture. The drummer is tearing off some awe-inspiringly complicated tempos, the bass player is walking all over a stand up monster, some dweeb on the keys is sampling old-ass pop and blues tunes, answering machine messages, and who knows what all else. In front of it all, a terminally-white sounding lead singer is rattling off lines full of story and inside jokes. I don't always know the story or get the joke, but the boy turns some mad phrases while he scrapes a pick across a riff. It's Soul Coughing, and I love it. Three albums later, they are done, and I find that I am not so broken up about it. I never spend a lot of time thinking about why, but, to some extent, the freshness of that first listen has slowly seeped away from the band. I liked each of their recordings, enough, but I was never blown away by anything that came after that first disc. The why, however, was difficult to pinpoint. Now, it's 2012, and I see that the front man for Soul Coughing has published a memoir, THE BOOK OF DRUGS. I am intrigued. I pick up the book. I dive in. That first night, I can't stop reading. Organized into short (some only a paragraph) vignettes, Mike Doughty manages to wend his tale from his early years in West Point, NY, to his time trying to find a suitable creative outlet. I am fifty pages in, and I am fighting sleep. Sleep wins, but I think all the next day about getting home to finish. I get home, and I dive back into THE BOOK OF DRUGS. And, just like with Soul Coughing, I find my enjoyment waning as I make my way deeper into the book. And, just like with Soul Coughing, I can't quite put my digit on the reason why. Doughty, after all, is an excellent writer. The pacing of this memoir is perfect, perhaps even too swift for some. The stories that he tells are often like candy for anyone who ever had dreams of creative stardom. And the tone of this memoir, even in the most intensely painful moments (and there are few), is surprisingly free from cynicism and bitterness (of course, there is some). You get the sense that THE BOOK OF DRUGS is written by someone entirely at peace with who he is, even when he writes about how maintaining that peace is such a struggle. As I close the cover on this one (yeah, I finished it that night), I have this weird sensation. I have enjoyed most of this book, and I have learned many things about Doughty's experiences with Soul Coughing that make some of my own reactions to the band's work make a kind of sense. And, I have admired him for his apparent honesty about his struggles with himself (after all, aren't all of our struggles really, on some level, struggles with ourselves?). But, in the end, I am left wanting for more of something...and I can't tell what that something is. That's when I have this realization about Soul Coughing: they sounded really cool--they've got all this improvisational, artsy, funkiness going on, but they don't really grab me deep down, where the good stuff does, to truly move my feet, my ass, my heart, or my mind. Ultimately, I am afraid THE BOOK OF DRUGS doesn't, either.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    I finished this book a couple of days ago, and for some reason it's been following me around. It just won't leave me alone. I'll be walking down the street or brushing my teeth or cooking dinner and a part of the book will pop up in my head. It's like visiting the factory to see the sausage being made, and as a result I don't think I'll ever hear Soul Coughing quite the same way again. And I think I'm okay with that. Perhaps it has stayed with me because I have someone in my life right now who s I finished this book a couple of days ago, and for some reason it's been following me around. It just won't leave me alone. I'll be walking down the street or brushing my teeth or cooking dinner and a part of the book will pop up in my head. It's like visiting the factory to see the sausage being made, and as a result I don't think I'll ever hear Soul Coughing quite the same way again. And I think I'm okay with that. Perhaps it has stayed with me because I have someone in my life right now who seems to be in denial about the need to become a "friend of Bill's." Perhaps it is because of my hyperactive sense of justice, which went haywire as I read page after frustrating page of the injustices he suffered at the hands of his band mates. Or maybe it's just because it's one of those unexpectedly personal stories that just lingers with you for a while. Who knows. But that said, I'd love to experience the literary Rashomon that would occur if the bass player, drummer, and sampler player were to respond with their own memoirs. I don't doubt that MD had extremely toxic relationships with the three of them, but I wondered early on if the other members of the band had similarly damning stories about MD's behavior. How did they experience the band? They obviously inhabited very different realities. MD at least owns up to becoming a real asshole as the band wore him down and his addictions became more controlling, so I'd probably be more inclined to trust his self-reflective version of events than the reactionary, self-righteous response that I'd anticipate from any of them. But it'd still be an interesting read. After reading this book, I felt less guilty about the fact that I discovered Soul Coughing during a juncture in my life when I was obtaining most of my music through less than legal means, and happily reflected on the fact that I've always contributed my fair share financially to Doughty's solo career, both with CD purchases and live ticket sales. Oh, and this book. It's a brave story, and in the end I was happy to see the hero of tale emerge victorious, scars and all. Soldier on, Mike Doughty. Soldier on.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maashu

    Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of Soul Coughing. While I really liked this book, I felt at times like it wasn't as eloquently written as I was expecting it to be. I also found that Doughty and I are a lot alike, and not in the best way. There are no chapters in here, the thing presents itself as a series of anecdotes, jumping around in a slightly Memento-like fashion at times, stretching out in long sections of complete linearity at others. Easy to follow and hard to pin down, like the man himse Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of Soul Coughing. While I really liked this book, I felt at times like it wasn't as eloquently written as I was expecting it to be. I also found that Doughty and I are a lot alike, and not in the best way. There are no chapters in here, the thing presents itself as a series of anecdotes, jumping around in a slightly Memento-like fashion at times, stretching out in long sections of complete linearity at others. Easy to follow and hard to pin down, like the man himself. I had no idea about pretty much everything he went through, but my perception of him sort of alternated between immense sympathy and a sort of "oh come on dude" sort of annoyance. He complains a lot, and he's got a right to, from what he says. He comes off as credible, if bitter. But if you believe him, you'll understand that we were lucky the band ever existed, and unlucky he didn't have more creative control over what we did get to experience. The last 10 or so pages were worth the ride for me, he really opens up in a way that I empathize with him because he does things to himself that I do; beats himself up for things that happened 20+ years ago, yells out, cursing himself for things he wrote but never used, things he thought but never did. It's a great read if you're a fan of the band, if you've struggled with addiction, or if you're a fan of the genre of rock star genre.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Louis Sobol

    I was raised on Soul Coughing. My parents played their music in the car and Mike Doughty's luscious poetry coloured my understanding of the world. I've always thought of him as a genius -- godlike and propelled by blinding creativity. I'd assumed that his skills, being all-powerful, arose from some place of righteousness. That notion was challenged by The Book Of Drugs, a well-written and honest but spiteful story. Doughty grew up in West Point, a nefarious military community, and came of age dur I was raised on Soul Coughing. My parents played their music in the car and Mike Doughty's luscious poetry coloured my understanding of the world. I've always thought of him as a genius -- godlike and propelled by blinding creativity. I'd assumed that his skills, being all-powerful, arose from some place of righteousness. That notion was challenged by The Book Of Drugs, a well-written and honest but spiteful story. Doughty grew up in West Point, a nefarious military community, and came of age during the brutally narcissistic Reagan era -- the height of American capitalism. Like many imaginative, talented American youngsters, the spiritually disconnected nature of his childhood resulted in angst and chaos. This paired with an effortless rise to fame generated a shockingly intense addiction to drugs of every category, lasting for most of the book and trailing off into AA programs, vague religion and international travel. Doughty never got over his issues, and doesn't claim to -- much of the story is shit-talking a band that does genuinely seem problematic. But that's not your problem, Mike, you know? Doughty has been addicted throughout his life, understandably -- to chemical highs, artistic highs, and the high of fame. Achieving the best of all three so early on is probably impossible to handle. But Doughty hasn't let go of that childish judgmental streak and comes off as corny. It's unfortunate to see a hero of yours rattle off petty grocery lists of wrongs done.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ira

    When surfing Youtube last week, I was listening to an old interview and concert by Mr. Doughty and he mentioned this book. When I saw it was available at my library, I grabbed it the next day because I wanted to read the memoir of an artist whose music I really like. And, to be clear (for those of you who have read the book), I mean his solo work as I barely have any reference to his Soul Coughing work. This book was interesting. Doughty is an interesting, thoughtful and very intense writer, but When surfing Youtube last week, I was listening to an old interview and concert by Mr. Doughty and he mentioned this book. When I saw it was available at my library, I grabbed it the next day because I wanted to read the memoir of an artist whose music I really like. And, to be clear (for those of you who have read the book), I mean his solo work as I barely have any reference to his Soul Coughing work. This book was interesting. Doughty is an interesting, thoughtful and very intense writer, but the book hit me as scattershot even though it was roughly chronological. It was definitely an interesting read and gave me one person's perspective on the music industry, being in a band and obsession. It was definitely not a light, happy read but it definitely shifted upward in the last quarter. I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone. I'm not sure who I'd recommend this book to. I guess if you were a frustrated musician or someone struggling with drugs or depression, I might read it for a different, but potentially kindred perspective.

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