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As featured in People magazine, Vanity Fair, and on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List! Sharply funny and compulsively readable, The Gilded Razor is a dazzling and harrowing memoir from debut author Sam Lansky. The Gilded Razor is the true story of a double life. By the age of seventeen, Sam Lansky was an all-star student with Ivy League aspirations in his final year at an el As featured in People magazine, Vanity Fair, and on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List! Sharply funny and compulsively readable, The Gilded Razor is a dazzling and harrowing memoir from debut author Sam Lansky. The Gilded Razor is the true story of a double life. By the age of seventeen, Sam Lansky was an all-star student with Ivy League aspirations in his final year at an elite New York City prep school. But a nasty addiction to prescription pills spiraled rapidly out of control, compounded by a string of reckless affairs with older men, leaving his bright future in jeopardy. After a terrifying overdose, he tried to straighten out. Yet as he journeyed from the glittering streets of Manhattan, to a wilderness boot camp in Utah, to a psych ward in New Orleans, he only found more opportunities to create chaos—until finally, he began to face himself. In the vein of Elizabeth Wurtzel and Augusten Burroughs, Lansky scrapes away at his own life as a young addict and exposes profoundly universal anxieties. Told with remarkable sensitivity, biting humor, and unrelenting self-awareness, The Gilded Razor is a coming-of-age story of searing honesty and lyricism that introduces a powerful new voice to the confessional genre.


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As featured in People magazine, Vanity Fair, and on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List! Sharply funny and compulsively readable, The Gilded Razor is a dazzling and harrowing memoir from debut author Sam Lansky. The Gilded Razor is the true story of a double life. By the age of seventeen, Sam Lansky was an all-star student with Ivy League aspirations in his final year at an el As featured in People magazine, Vanity Fair, and on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List! Sharply funny and compulsively readable, The Gilded Razor is a dazzling and harrowing memoir from debut author Sam Lansky. The Gilded Razor is the true story of a double life. By the age of seventeen, Sam Lansky was an all-star student with Ivy League aspirations in his final year at an elite New York City prep school. But a nasty addiction to prescription pills spiraled rapidly out of control, compounded by a string of reckless affairs with older men, leaving his bright future in jeopardy. After a terrifying overdose, he tried to straighten out. Yet as he journeyed from the glittering streets of Manhattan, to a wilderness boot camp in Utah, to a psych ward in New Orleans, he only found more opportunities to create chaos—until finally, he began to face himself. In the vein of Elizabeth Wurtzel and Augusten Burroughs, Lansky scrapes away at his own life as a young addict and exposes profoundly universal anxieties. Told with remarkable sensitivity, biting humor, and unrelenting self-awareness, The Gilded Razor is a coming-of-age story of searing honesty and lyricism that introduces a powerful new voice to the confessional genre.

30 review for The Gilded Razor: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter Monn

    An amazing addiction memoir! I related to this so much since I got sober at the same age. Check out my full review on my booktube channel http://youtube.com/peterlikesbooks An amazing addiction memoir! I related to this so much since I got sober at the same age. Check out my full review on my booktube channel http://youtube.com/peterlikesbooks

  2. 4 out of 5

    Greg Kearney

    Rich white kid does drugs and has lots of sex, then goes to rehab. How fresh! What a crucial new voice! Competent on a sentence-to-sentence basis, otherwise completely unnecessary. And that pompous prologue that begins "For many years after it was over...", like being a party boy is akin to running barefoot from marauding Cossacks! Ugh.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Robert Moscalewk

    Maybe he saw in me the same sickness that I saw in myself – it was hard to miss – but the exquisite agony of that rejection was paralytic, reinforcing some privately held belief that I was fundamentally damaged or defective. True intimacy was a distant point on the horizon, too evanescent to count on. (287) I apologize if this review will seem to some of you too subjective to be taken seriously, yet, as I kept reading Sam Lansky’s memoir I had the feeling I could fully sympathize with the narrat Maybe he saw in me the same sickness that I saw in myself – it was hard to miss – but the exquisite agony of that rejection was paralytic, reinforcing some privately held belief that I was fundamentally damaged or defective. True intimacy was a distant point on the horizon, too evanescent to count on. (287) I apologize if this review will seem to some of you too subjective to be taken seriously, yet, as I kept reading Sam Lansky’s memoir I had the feeling I could fully sympathize with the narrator, albeit I’ve had no experience with addiction. I have struggled with anorexia at one point in my life, and I know what self-loathing can do to people. I also met Sam in New York City when he came to Strand Bookstore to talk about his book, and to be frank, meeting him in person has had a rather strange effect on my reading. Because here was this guy who seemed so fabulously and incredibly normal, a guy whose legs twitched nervously while sitting on the high wooden chair in the Rare Books Room on the third floor of the bookstore, and who sometimes struggled for words, and who kept saying that it was amazing to be there, and who hugged almost all of those who stayed behind to have their copies signed by the author, and thanked them personally for their support, but who, conversely, seemed so fragile and broken in his writing, so devoured by this “insatiable need for validation”. That side of “Sam” that you will come to discover if you decide to read The Gilded Razor resembles an open city in ruins, particularly in the last few pages of the book when the writing turns to feverish hues and every instant seems to flow into the next one, up to the point when one cannot distinguish between them. The contrast between these two personas is simply stunning (which is most likely due to Sam’s “miraculous” recovery, and current fabulousness). There were moments in my reading when I simply wanted to stop, look up, imagine Sam right in front of me, and ask him “Did this really happen? Or is this just embellishment?”. The honesty of the narrating voice is at times almost uncomfortable: you’ll read about excessive drinking, substance abuse, and sex orgies with unknown men, among other things (I'm a small town guy). But all of that honesty comes from a place of pain, and Sam Lansky has all my respect for having the courage of going “back there” in order to be able to talk about himself so freely. (I personally could never do it, and if I did that, I have always kept it hidden, swept everything under the rug of metaphor.) “Pain”, writes Elaine Scarry in The Body in Pain, “is a pure physical experience of negation, an immediate sensory rendering of ‘against,’ of something being against one, and of something one must be against. Even though it occurs within oneself, it is at once identified as ‘not oneself,’ ‘not me,’ as something so alien that it must right now be gotten rid of. […] Pain begins by being ‘not oneself’ and ends by having eliminated all that is ‘not itself.’” In this sense, at times during my reading of Sam’s memoir I had the feeling that the narrator was acutely experiencing this break between his own self and that other thing represented by his pain, on the one hand, triggered by his parents’ divorce, and reinforced, on the other hand, by his self-loathing. As the narrator himself explains at one point, one of the reasons for his substance abuse was the fear of gaining weight and going back to being chubby. Drugs are mere cover-ups in this whole narrative, a thin veil meant to postpone if not to deflect confrontation with one’s problems. And in The Gilded Razor, the narrator does just that. He falls prey to his own body and the endless cycle of expectations he believes he is supposed to fulfill. The final feverish pages are, in my view, just what Scarry talks about in The Body in Pain: the moment when pain has eliminated all that is “not itself”, namely whatever was left of the narrator’s fragile persona, and has begun to act on its own, looking only to satisfy its own needs regardless of the consequences that kind of satisfaction entails. This is even more apparent towards the end of the book: My father picked me up at Vassar the night before my flight. His face was stony as I carried boxes downstairs. Perhaps he was afraid of me, or maybe he was just incredulous that I’d managed to do this again. But I couldn’t see what he saw, the pattern of embarrassing mistakes and unfulfilled commitments that was starting to become so predictable. I only saw the sharp-edged specifics of each little catastrophe, clinging to this insistent belief that it could have been different if only the world had been kinder to me. I would have told anyone who would listen that the blame lay with the university that should have kept a closer eye on me, the parents who should have loved me more fiercely, the friends who were such a bad influence, the rehabs that failed to fix me. Just so long as I didn’t have to admit that it was all my fault. (271-272) In recollection, the pattern seems obvious. At the time of writing it all seemed predictable. But there is a sense that at the level of experience something else was acting on behalf of the narrator. Later on, in another moment of recollection the idea resurfaces: Yet if I had been asked what I wanted on a grand, existential plane, I probably would have said that all I wanted was to love and be loved. I couldn’t say why I thought any of the things that I was doing would bring me love, but I was so lonely, terribly lonely. Maybe drug addicts are just people who feel loneliness with the acuteness of bad fever. I was quick to fall in love with any man who made me think that maybe we could have the sort of love that I always wanted. A quiet, domestic love that would provide me with the satisfaction that a thousand one-night stands never could. But that was also the kind of quiet, domestic love that I believed, even if I would never vocalize this note of internalized homophobia, gay men simply weren’t allowed to have – but that wouldn’t stop me from trying. (285, my emphasis) And yet, that was the thing that bothered me most: the narrator takes maybe too much advantage of his position and explains matters excessively at times. He does go back there, in that murky place called pain, but he’s always keeping one foot in the door, not entirely letting the reader inside the story. It is as if he feels this compelling need to tell the story but is yet too afraid to fully submerge in it, afraid that maybe he won’t be able to come back perhaps. Except in the last few pages, the ones describing his last relapse before getting sober, the addict’s mind is never there, present in the narrative, but is always filtered through that of the sober, older version of the narrator. It almost feels as if we’re reading a patient’s chart, written in the first person. A pleasant read nonetheless. Totally recommend it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    J David

    A trite monotonous memoir. Sex, drugs, alcohol; then drugs, sex and more alcohol, then drugs alcohol and sex. He writes well but not worth reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    An astonishing and powerfully written LGBT coming-of-age story, also about the intense spiral of addiction and how Sam Lansky's life veered so quickly out of control in: "The Gilded Razor: A Memoir". In Portland, Oregon Sam's parents announced their intentions to divorce, initially he seemed to take this in stride; until his mother, a therapist, went on a "dream quest" to unlock her spirituality, naming his father as the most emotionally/sexually repressed person she'd ever met. While his father An astonishing and powerfully written LGBT coming-of-age story, also about the intense spiral of addiction and how Sam Lansky's life veered so quickly out of control in: "The Gilded Razor: A Memoir". In Portland, Oregon Sam's parents announced their intentions to divorce, initially he seemed to take this in stride; until his mother, a therapist, went on a "dream quest" to unlock her spirituality, naming his father as the most emotionally/sexually repressed person she'd ever met. While his father promptly relocated to NYC, enjoying newfound freedom and bachelorhood. Sam observed: "They were too distracted to parent a child as precocious and strong willed as I was, and I had grown skilled at manipulating them into overlooking obvious red flags." Joining his father in Manhattan, he attended the college prep Dwight School, which overlooked Central Park. With his father engrossed with his new girlfriend, Sam avoided going to class, completing his homework, got high with other students, and sought strangers out online to meet for sex and more drugs. Understanding his sexual orientation from a very young age, Sam didn't have the typical issues of coming to terms with being gay, as most young men at 17. Sam had regularly scheduled appointments with Dr. Chester, who made the diagnosis of generalized anxiety-major depressive-ADHD which only added to his problems with numerous prescriptions to various pills . Sam seemed unrealistically determined to be admitted to Princeton. Instead, he ended up overdosing, and attending a series of three rehab facilities/programs. It wasn't clear if his self-absorbed parents realized their actions likely were the root cause of his problems. However, to their credit, both seemed on stand-by with genuine offers to help him in anyway possible. Sam "clung to a sad little flicker of hope" in his numerous encounters that someone would actually love him, it never occurred to him to date like most people. This is an excellent intense fast paced read of sexual addiction and severe substance abuse, and later the long redemption leading to recovery. Sam Lansky is the editor of Time Magazine, his work has been featured in many notable publications, this is his first book. ~ With thanks to the Seattle Public Library.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Joy

    Very rarely do I have to force myself to finish a book, unfortunately that's what happened here. I was truly intrigued by this book. I find addiction fascinating as an outsider, but also as a child on an addict. The reviews seemed promising, which only made me more excited. This memoir, while beautifully written, was boring, repetitive beyond measure, and I felt like no story was fully told from start to finish. There was no fluidity and jumping around from one half finished story to another was Very rarely do I have to force myself to finish a book, unfortunately that's what happened here. I was truly intrigued by this book. I find addiction fascinating as an outsider, but also as a child on an addict. The reviews seemed promising, which only made me more excited. This memoir, while beautifully written, was boring, repetitive beyond measure, and I felt like no story was fully told from start to finish. There was no fluidity and jumping around from one half finished story to another was confusing. I found myself being annoyed almost the entire time because of the "victim" "woe is me" point of view. I understand that's how he felt, but as a third party, it made me sick watching how he treated everyone in his life and the lack of responsibility, even after being clean. The best part of the entire book was his first rehab stint. That's when I felt the most connection to the story and felt the author show some authenticity. Bi wish the whole story had felt the way that chapter or two did. If you're looking for a memoir about drug addiction and what it's actually like, I would forego this book and find a different one. I'll sum it up for you now: Drugs, sex, sex, drugs, whining, sex, drugs, repeat.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Knoke

    Lansyky is a very talented writer and this is a powerful, honest and brave story, that I recommend if you appreciate difficult memoirs. I do hope his next book focuses on something other than himself as too much self preoccupation can keep one stuck, which can be seen in so many good writers with difficult lives who write multiple memoirs about themselves.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex Black

    This was almost hilarious to the point of enjoyment, but I don't think that's what Lansky was going for here. If you've ever seen those memes about Guy in Your MFA, I feel like you've got a pretty good idea of what it was like to read this book. I've never heard anyone complain quite so much about being an upper middle class white guy. (He was gay, but don't worry, male nipples can also be described in strange ways- "his mauve nipples were buoyant on the sea of his suntanned chest") What really i This was almost hilarious to the point of enjoyment, but I don't think that's what Lansky was going for here. If you've ever seen those memes about Guy in Your MFA, I feel like you've got a pretty good idea of what it was like to read this book. I've never heard anyone complain quite so much about being an upper middle class white guy. (He was gay, but don't worry, male nipples can also be described in strange ways- "his mauve nipples were buoyant on the sea of his suntanned chest") What really irritated me in this book was his tone and how little it seemed like he'd changed from the immature 17 year old he was when he started the book. It was full of these shallow, patronizing reflections that I think we were meant to take as deep soul searching. They felt more fake than anything else to me, and more in the category of narcissistic and manipulative like he'd described himself as a teen. This was sort of encouraged by the way he would always talk about how much he stood out. He was always the most or the worst at everything he did, no matter where he was or who he was with. No one at rehab had been through what he had, no one's spirals were as bad as his, he alone knew suffering. It was eye roll inducing, and it wasn't just his thoughts from the time. It popped up in his current narration as well. It seemed like the only real difference is that now he's sober. Which I mean, good for him, but it doesn't inherently make this book worthwhile. The most disappointing thing was there were moments when I really got into this, moments where he actually seemed marginally self aware. It was usually when he wasn't trying to throw in any kind of reflection and was just relating his thoughts at the time, but it sometimes seemed like he had interesting things to say. But unfortunately, those were few and far between. Most of the time was spent discussing how bitter he was as a teen that his father didn't want to pay for his private university after prep school and three stints in rehab, and now adult him recognizing that maybe his father is right. It didn't feel like deep introspection to me so much as admitting some basic facts. That's about as shallow as reflection can go. I read this all in about one sitting because a lot of it was so bad it was entertaining, but it's not one I'd recommend. Bravo to Lansky for getting and staying clean, but I'd suggest passing on reading a book about a teenager who cuts his Adderall with a gold razor to be edgy.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Well-written, gritty memoir about a young man's addiction. As a reader, your heart feels deeply for the "kid" we meet at the beginning of the book, who is already well on his way to disaster. He is so filled with shame (for things not of his doing) it almost cannibalizes him. You get the sense that part of the reason he takes so many drugs and sleeps with countless wretches is because he actually feeds off the shame...as if he thinks that's the way he's supposed to feel. Oh my heart broke for hi Well-written, gritty memoir about a young man's addiction. As a reader, your heart feels deeply for the "kid" we meet at the beginning of the book, who is already well on his way to disaster. He is so filled with shame (for things not of his doing) it almost cannibalizes him. You get the sense that part of the reason he takes so many drugs and sleeps with countless wretches is because he actually feeds off the shame...as if he thinks that's the way he's supposed to feel. Oh my heart broke for him a hundred times. And, of course, it makes me worry even more about the prescription drug epidemic (though he hardly stops there). In this book he comes out at 11, which seems early to declare one's sexuality either way. Having a 10 and 12 year old myself, I cannot fathom either of them making any sort of proclamation about who they'd want to have relations with. So it makes me wonder how much of his early abuse accounts for this. Again, heartbreaking that there are kids that are forced to contemplate such things at a very young age due to the egregious acts of adults. A sad tale but ultimately redemptive. The writing is honest and he makes no excuses.

  10. 5 out of 5

    John Benutty

    Re-classify "The Gilded Razor" as novel (sted memoir) and it is the literary companion to William S. Burroughs' "Queer" and James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room." Lansky speaks as intelligently and directly about that familiar queer experience--one defined by dive gay bars, trysts with older men, drugs, alcohol, sex, shame and embarrassment--without ever defining his experiences or his book as such. Instead he tells the story of his emergence into adulthood as a 17-year old struggling through addict Re-classify "The Gilded Razor" as novel (sted memoir) and it is the literary companion to William S. Burroughs' "Queer" and James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room." Lansky speaks as intelligently and directly about that familiar queer experience--one defined by dive gay bars, trysts with older men, drugs, alcohol, sex, shame and embarrassment--without ever defining his experiences or his book as such. Instead he tells the story of his emergence into adulthood as a 17-year old struggling through addiction, desperately trying to find a way out, in a more universal way, providing what is essentially a boy's coming-of-age story, much like "Catcher in the Rye" or even "Lord of the Flies." Reading Lansky is to read a master of prose, someone so in control of his own voice that you immediately understand why it isn't far-fetched to already be comparing him to Burroughs, Baldwin and Salinger.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    DNF page 52. I typically enjoy memoirs about addiction and recovery--the dark places people go to and their efforts to find health and happiness on their terms. Lansky makes it clear from both his use of language and the way he portrays the events of his youth, however, that he still views his past as more glamorous and edgy than anything else. Martyrdom is just not that attractive to read, especially when it's coming from a privileged male protagonist who squandered a secure, comfortable, and s DNF page 52. I typically enjoy memoirs about addiction and recovery--the dark places people go to and their efforts to find health and happiness on their terms. Lansky makes it clear from both his use of language and the way he portrays the events of his youth, however, that he still views his past as more glamorous and edgy than anything else. Martyrdom is just not that attractive to read, especially when it's coming from a privileged male protagonist who squandered a secure, comfortable, and supportive upbringing and amazing educational opportunities. Lansky's abuse of prescription drugs and destructive anonymous sex seemed to spark more from boredom and a desire to change his image than anything else, and that just killed any investment I might have had in following the continued downward spiral to his eventual recovery process.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jim Wise

    In The Gilded Razor, author Sam Lansky chronicles his struggle with addiction from a very early age. I started this book out of boredom and ended up finishing it in one sitting. Anyone who has ever wrestled with the demon of addiction, anyone who has hopped from bed to bed in search of some unnamed angel, perhaps called "the dad I wished for," anyone who has ever come to the sobering conclusion that life can be one long slow-motion pulling of a trigger should read this memoir. Mr Lansky writes w In The Gilded Razor, author Sam Lansky chronicles his struggle with addiction from a very early age. I started this book out of boredom and ended up finishing it in one sitting. Anyone who has ever wrestled with the demon of addiction, anyone who has hopped from bed to bed in search of some unnamed angel, perhaps called "the dad I wished for," anyone who has ever come to the sobering conclusion that life can be one long slow-motion pulling of a trigger should read this memoir. Mr Lansky writes with the soul of a wounded poet who has found healing. Brilliant, profound and highly recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Zucoloto

    3.5 stars. This memoir focused on addiction which is not something I’ve ever dealt with, so I found it somewhat educating. Overall, I wouldn’t say this book was special to me as I didn’t connect with Sam and his story, although I wish he had elaborated more on his life after treatment. On a side note, I was (very!) impressed by the quality of his writing, so props for that!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    Breathtakingly written, heartwrenchingly sad, poetically shared- I read this book in one big gulp. I could not put it down. Lansky is a major talent- he should be proud of the vulnerability it took to write this memoir.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Noelle Walsh

    This book was pretty good. The author writes of how difficult his life was and how low he went. One can only hope this author goes on to write more books that are equally well written. *won as a GoodReads Giveaway*

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    A what story! Addiction can be such a wild and terrifying ride. Thanks to Sam for Sharing his story!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Gossip Girl meets Running With Scissors. Pretty gripping shocking and unapologetic however the end felt like someone told him he had to finish the book in three pages or less.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Savanna (savbeebooks)

    What a ride this book was. This book is a memoir about Sam, who tells his story about addiction to drugs, alcohol, and sex. We start when Sam is young and has an encounter with a little bit of an older boy. We then move to middle school and high school, where Sam finds himself in a very unfortunate lifestyle with drugs and older men. Eventually, Sam ends up in a rehab, and then another rehab... and then another. He struggles and his family struggles. Sam loses himself time and time again. I enjo What a ride this book was. This book is a memoir about Sam, who tells his story about addiction to drugs, alcohol, and sex. We start when Sam is young and has an encounter with a little bit of an older boy. We then move to middle school and high school, where Sam finds himself in a very unfortunate lifestyle with drugs and older men. Eventually, Sam ends up in a rehab, and then another rehab... and then another. He struggles and his family struggles. Sam loses himself time and time again. I enjoyed the way this book was written. It was very sad to see how addiction can really take over someones life. It was heartbreaking to see Sam spiral out of control. It feels wrong to say that I enjoyed this story, as it was a tough read and I can't even imagine living through his life. Overall, it's a heavy book - a lot of trigger warnings. In relation to the writing, it kept my attention and I enjoyed the flow.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    An excellent memoir, very well written and highly recommended. I will be reading anything Mr. Lansky puts out.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    4.5/5 Heartbreaking portrait of a young gay man, the power of (drug, alcohol, & sex) addiction, and the challenges of getting and staying sober. Highly recommended! 4.5/5 Heartbreaking portrait of a young gay man, the power of (drug, alcohol, & sex) addiction, and the challenges of getting and staying sober. Highly recommended!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Richard Leis

    I've been on a tear through a few memoirs this week, and I saved this one for last for two reasons: the subject matter and the reviews that suggested it was funny. But it's not funny. Not really. In terms of subject matter, narratives (books, movies, or TV shows) about drug use make me exceptionally uncomfortable. I generally avoid them but every once in a while I steel myself and dive into one. Lansky's account of his drug use is riveting but also very upsetting. I cannot read about his experienc I've been on a tear through a few memoirs this week, and I saved this one for last for two reasons: the subject matter and the reviews that suggested it was funny. But it's not funny. Not really. In terms of subject matter, narratives (books, movies, or TV shows) about drug use make me exceptionally uncomfortable. I generally avoid them but every once in a while I steel myself and dive into one. Lansky's account of his drug use is riveting but also very upsetting. I cannot read about his experiences, even told using the voice of his past, flippant self, and find anything particularly funny about them. Here's the thing, though: I don't think Lansky does either. In my opinion, Lansky is not using humor in any gratuitous way to bring readers into his story. Humor is not the tone of the book, but part of the characterization of past Lansky, and I think the book is stronger for this approach. The memoir is propulsive, though, and it's easy to get caught up in the momentum of the rocketship ride that was his youth. By the end it seems miraculous that he survived. Lansky writes with a matter-of-fact tone and attention to detail, and he also uses urban and wilderness settings to great effect as background to his rapidly deteriorating situation and search for help. It's fascinating to read his memoir and think about what he values in telling his story in comparison to other writers of memoir. I think that it is potentially quite difficult to find the right ending for a memoir, one that lives up to the situations and emotions in the preceding history. I felt that Lansky's memoir transitions rather abruptly at the end to what changed for him at age 19 so that he could become sober, but I wasn't sure exactly what had changed. I would have liked more analysis and contemplation about what happened at this transition point. As it is, however, the rapidness of this transition follows an emotional arc that left me in tears. The final two paragraphs, in my opinion, are too humble; Lansky ends with a universal statement, but what struck me the most about his memoir was how singular his strength was to overcome and manage his demons. This is a very brave memoir, one in which Lansky allows himself to be extremely vulnerable and open. I feel grateful as a reader to have been offered this glimpse at his turbulent life.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emily Crow

    I enjoyed this memoir of Lansky's addiction to all sorts of things--basically any drug you can think of, and he seems to have abused it at least once--and his faltering steps at recovery. The writing is very smooth and makes for a really quick read. Despite this, I wouldn't call this one of the better books of the recovery memoir genre--it doesn't have the sparkling bitchiness of Elizabeth Wurtzel's More, Now, Again or the genuine humor of Augusten Burroughs' Dry. It lacks the scope and eruditio I enjoyed this memoir of Lansky's addiction to all sorts of things--basically any drug you can think of, and he seems to have abused it at least once--and his faltering steps at recovery. The writing is very smooth and makes for a really quick read. Despite this, I wouldn't call this one of the better books of the recovery memoir genre--it doesn't have the sparkling bitchiness of Elizabeth Wurtzel's More, Now, Again or the genuine humor of Augusten Burroughs' Dry. It lacks the scope and erudition of Caroline Knapps' Drinking: A Love Story and the humility of Mary Karr or Heather King. None of this means that it's a bad book, only that I can think of so many better books in the genre. Overall, I think what this book is most lacking is compassion. Lansky is certainly honest in showing his flaws and weaknesses and failures--as are all of the authors mentioned above--but when I read their books, I get the impression that they now strive to be kinder to themselves, at least in print. Lansky is brutal in depicting the very worst side of his past, depicting himself as being pretentious, shallow, manipulative and needy, a completely odious character. I got the impression that he still dislikes himself, which means that, as a reader, I didn't much like him either. I also never understood exactly why he spiraled down into such horrendous addiction and self-destruction. Maybe there is no "why" but with the better books I mentioned above, I felt the authors had a bit more understanding of what led them to such poor choices. Here, it just seemed to be an inherent character flaw combined with a culture of entitled rich kids and prevalent drug use, and I was left wanting to know a bit more. To be fair, I've been really harsh in my assessment of memoirs lately, probably because I've gotten a bit jaded with the whole genre. This one wasn't at all bad; it just could have been even better.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tad

    Every addict’s story is different. And, every addict’s story is the same. If you’ve ever struggled with addiction, there are parts of this that will really resonate for you and maybe even hit a little too close to home. If you haven’t struggled with addiction but you’d like to know what it is like to be an addict, this will give you some idea. Yes, it did feel repetitive at times. And I totally hear the critiques by non-addicts about how he does come off as privileged. After all, not all of us ha Every addict’s story is different. And, every addict’s story is the same. If you’ve ever struggled with addiction, there are parts of this that will really resonate for you and maybe even hit a little too close to home. If you haven’t struggled with addiction but you’d like to know what it is like to be an addict, this will give you some idea. Yes, it did feel repetitive at times. And I totally hear the critiques by non-addicts about how he does come off as privileged. After all, not all of us have parents who can afford to send us to expensive rehabs or pay for our first semester of college. And I think those critiques are somewhat valid. But here is also what I know. Lansky’s writing is just beautiful. It felt like a work of fiction. His honesty and vulnerability is remarkable. His willingness to expose the ugly parts of himself is much appreciated. And his ability to recall it all so vividly is just jaw dropping. There are lots of addiction memoirs out there. And I’m not all saying that this is the best one or that this is the only one you should read. But I am saying that this story spoke to me in a very real way. In a way that made it a difficult read for me and made me almost need to put it down and walk away at various points. But I couldn’t. I needed to know how this was all going to end. And I could see myself in so many parts of this book. And that made me deeply invested in it and in his recovery. This is a brutal, powerful, sad story. But there’s also hope. And there’s some redemption even. And that made it worth it. Again, was it entirely reflective of the addict’s experience? No, because each addict’s story is individual and personal. But enough of this story is reflective of addiction that you’ll be able to glean something out of it no matter what. Just read this book. Seriously, just go read it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    *I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.* This is a hard book to review, because it is very upsetting and difficult to read. It is an honest, straightforward portrait of a young man self-destructing, and it is equally frustrating and heartbreaking. Although I have no personal experience with addiction, I used to work for a rehab facility and feel that Lansky does a good job characterizing the many ways in which recovery facilities fail their patients, the high rates of rela *I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.* This is a hard book to review, because it is very upsetting and difficult to read. It is an honest, straightforward portrait of a young man self-destructing, and it is equally frustrating and heartbreaking. Although I have no personal experience with addiction, I used to work for a rehab facility and feel that Lansky does a good job characterizing the many ways in which recovery facilities fail their patients, the high rates of relapse, and the difficulty of transferring any progress made in treatment to the real world. I appreciated that he tackled the issues surrounding the intersection of being young, gay, and an addict, and how ill-equipped the treatment industry is to handle that intersection. Although I think Lansky is an engaging writer with a bright future, I did feel a sense of forced poetry in some of his writing. I also felt like a few keys points in his recovery were never addressed, including any description of his experiences with withdrawal (even from nicotene? Was that not excruciating for him during his wilderness stint?). I have a tough time explaining my criticisms of this book because it's so raw and honest, and I feel bad doing anything other than applaud Lansky's ability to share his story. However, I don't read many memoirs and I don't think I was the target audience for this book, and I have a tough time understanding who it was for. Is this a message of hope for people in recovery? A warning to parents who'd rather medicate than parent? If I gave this to someone who I thought was struggling with similar issues, would it help them? I don't know.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Al

    Why do people read memoirs about addicts? For some, it may be a "there, but for the grace of God..." situation. For others, it's a vicarious thrill of sorts. But I suspect many read to learn how the addict found his way to sobriety; they may be addicts themselves or the parent or (in my case) the spouse of an addict. I think the last group are looking for hope, the way back to life before addiction took over the loved one. Sam Lansky, now a magazine editor, details a death spiral period of his l Why do people read memoirs about addicts? For some, it may be a "there, but for the grace of God..." situation. For others, it's a vicarious thrill of sorts. But I suspect many read to learn how the addict found his way to sobriety; they may be addicts themselves or the parent or (in my case) the spouse of an addict. I think the last group are looking for hope, the way back to life before addiction took over the loved one. Sam Lansky, now a magazine editor, details a death spiral period of his life from seventeen to his early twenties, with an account of prep school and college days filled with drugs and sex with a break or two for rehab (including a bizarre wilderness rehab month). Lansky recounts a prep school English teacher returning an essay with "This is very well written, but your protagonist is unlikable." And that ironic comment applies to his memoir as well. Though Lansky seems to never lack friends or lovers, there's never any evidence that he had any likable traits other than a seemingly unending access to prescription or illicit drugs. He's so brutally honest in his self-portrait that it's overwhelming after a while. He seems to realize this near the end, where he hurries through a relapse, suspecting that readers are anxious for some resolution. Maybe it's due to my personal situation, but I wish he'd spent more time at the end on his last recovery. I know that it can never be taken for granted that it will be the "last" recovery, but as a reader it would have better imparted a sense of closure. For that, I recommend readers go to Sam Lansky's Instagram account to see recent pictures of a happy, healthy sober survivor.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elli

    Not a book for my interests. Sometimes drug addiction can make for a sad, albeit interesting read; but I found this author to be entitled, dramatic, like a try-hard tough life. My take was merely, "Wah, mommy and daddy divorced so I'm going to have sex with half of NYC and do every drug." Plenty of peoples parents get divorced, and don't do that. Whining about college and how he didn't get enough attention, despite his parents doting on him (his father let them stay at a hotel because his apartme Not a book for my interests. Sometimes drug addiction can make for a sad, albeit interesting read; but I found this author to be entitled, dramatic, like a try-hard tough life. My take was merely, "Wah, mommy and daddy divorced so I'm going to have sex with half of NYC and do every drug." Plenty of peoples parents get divorced, and don't do that. Whining about college and how he didn't get enough attention, despite his parents doting on him (his father let them stay at a hotel because his apartment felt awkward to the author, what the heck?), and also letting him decide where he wanted to live, whenever he wanted. I wish my parents bought me plane tickets to travel across the country to and fro whenever I pleased. He also acted oh so betrayed when daddy wouldn't pay for ivy league school tuition, give me a freakin' break. If you're a rich kid (yet don't think you're rich, because your friends make hundreds of millions, instead of only a few million), this book will resonate with you. Majority of the book was discussing who he slept with as a teenager, becoming ever so enlightened at a rehab daddy paid a few dozen thousands for, then stating it did nothing, doing a ton of drugs, and suddenly being totally cured by going to a couple meetings. Maybe I missed the point.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bo Nobo Nobo

    It got a little repetitive with the detailed drug usage. I was expecting a point of no return and a subsequent *blank page*.... He ended up recovering and becoming clean....Disney ending. Still, I liked the honesty and if you enjoy over the top, gossip girl esque bs...and want to revisit it, watch Gossip Girl again but if you still want to read something obnoxious with a little value, read this book. I did relate--having done hard drugs once upon a time....but still, the glorifying at times was not It got a little repetitive with the detailed drug usage. I was expecting a point of no return and a subsequent *blank page*.... He ended up recovering and becoming clean....Disney ending. Still, I liked the honesty and if you enjoy over the top, gossip girl esque bs...and want to revisit it, watch Gossip Girl again but if you still want to read something obnoxious with a little value, read this book. I did relate--having done hard drugs once upon a time....but still, the glorifying at times was not so cool and just the repetitive nature and ....but at the same time the author didn't hide this from the reader...he wanted you to cringe and hate this character....so that you would hate the idea of ever doing drugs.... all in all i enjoyed the book but as i said, the detailed drug use (ie. i took this and this and then a this....), i was about to delete the ebook but then when he finally....*spoiler alert* ** ** * * * * * ** * * ** ** * * Apologizes to his father, I felt bad for him too...and i love how he sort of gained faith in God...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Aquino

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It was a very great book. It is very blunt and eye-opening about being young and reckless. Sam has tons of issues (drugs, sex, emotional, etc) but he is very honest about his imperfections and the struggle it is to recover. At times, I felt like he definitely took his privilege for granted and it is frustrating to be sympathetic. However, Sam is human and his plight is tremendous for someone who is only a teenager and trying to figure out his place in the real world. I am just happy he was able It was a very great book. It is very blunt and eye-opening about being young and reckless. Sam has tons of issues (drugs, sex, emotional, etc) but he is very honest about his imperfections and the struggle it is to recover. At times, I felt like he definitely took his privilege for granted and it is frustrating to be sympathetic. However, Sam is human and his plight is tremendous for someone who is only a teenager and trying to figure out his place in the real world. I am just happy he was able to survive to tell his story and hope he helps people in similar situations realize that it's never too late to change your life and fight for change. Also, it is a great eye opener for people who don't understand illnesses like addiction. I was really shocked at times by how careless Sam is when he sleeps with strangers for drugs and or money. I learned to not judge but seek to have compassion and comprehend the horrors of drug addictions.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Lee-Tammeus

    Okay, this book was a love/hate relationship for me. As a memoir about drug addiction, I can totally appreciate the back and forth, I am sober, now I'm not that make up any memoir such as this. What I did have a hard time with was the bratty, rich, overly narcissistic and highly sexed author - there were times I just wanted to slap him. The only saving grace that kept me reading was this author admits to being bratty, rich, highly sexed, and while not saying the actual word narcissistic, at leas Okay, this book was a love/hate relationship for me. As a memoir about drug addiction, I can totally appreciate the back and forth, I am sober, now I'm not that make up any memoir such as this. What I did have a hard time with was the bratty, rich, overly narcissistic and highly sexed author - there were times I just wanted to slap him. The only saving grace that kept me reading was this author admits to being bratty, rich, highly sexed, and while not saying the actual word narcissistic, at least implies as much. So, if you can get past the fact that his bottom is not getting into Princeton and that he can't access his never ending supply of money, thus, he pimps himself out to older, richer men than himself, you can get through this.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erin Lee

    "I relapsed on a bright, clear day in March, not intending to use any drugs, but not intending not to, either." "This is where my memories begin to splinter, which must mean that it was the end." "Those lusty nights and indolent espresso mornings had yielded so quickly to a temperate, sexless familiarity, but he had been drinking in secret and lying about it, and that terrified me. The alcohol was hot and sweet on his breath -- how badly it made me crave a drink." "What a stupid little man, I tho "I relapsed on a bright, clear day in March, not intending to use any drugs, but not intending not to, either." "This is where my memories begin to splinter, which must mean that it was the end." "Those lusty nights and indolent espresso mornings had yielded so quickly to a temperate, sexless familiarity, but he had been drinking in secret and lying about it, and that terrified me. The alcohol was hot and sweet on his breath -- how badly it made me crave a drink." "What a stupid little man, I thought, suddenly filling up with contempt, an odd and distant rage that I couldn't entirely name. I knew I hated him, but I didn't know why. I didn't know if I hated him because I believed he had turned me into a monster or because he couldn't fix a monstrosity in me that was innate."

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