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Apology to the Young Addict

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Husband, addict, father, skeptic. Now sixty―with years of sobriety under his belt―and the father of three sons, James Brown writes about finding a new path in life, making peace with the family whose ghosts have haunted him, and helping the next generation of addicts overcome their disease. Opening with the tragic tale of an elderly couple consumed by opioid addiction and m Husband, addict, father, skeptic. Now sixty―with years of sobriety under his belt―and the father of three sons, James Brown writes about finding a new path in life, making peace with the family whose ghosts have haunted him, and helping the next generation of addicts overcome their disease. Opening with the tragic tale of an elderly couple consumed by opioid addiction and moving through the horrors of a Las Vegas massacre to the loss of a beloved sponsor, these essays draw on Brown’s personal journey of recovery to illustrate how an individual life, in all its messiness and charm, can offer a blueprint for healing. Haunting and hopeful, Apology to the Young Addict is a reinvention of the recovery memoir and a lasting testimony from a master writing at his peak.


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Husband, addict, father, skeptic. Now sixty―with years of sobriety under his belt―and the father of three sons, James Brown writes about finding a new path in life, making peace with the family whose ghosts have haunted him, and helping the next generation of addicts overcome their disease. Opening with the tragic tale of an elderly couple consumed by opioid addiction and m Husband, addict, father, skeptic. Now sixty―with years of sobriety under his belt―and the father of three sons, James Brown writes about finding a new path in life, making peace with the family whose ghosts have haunted him, and helping the next generation of addicts overcome their disease. Opening with the tragic tale of an elderly couple consumed by opioid addiction and moving through the horrors of a Las Vegas massacre to the loss of a beloved sponsor, these essays draw on Brown’s personal journey of recovery to illustrate how an individual life, in all its messiness and charm, can offer a blueprint for healing. Haunting and hopeful, Apology to the Young Addict is a reinvention of the recovery memoir and a lasting testimony from a master writing at his peak.

30 review for Apology to the Young Addict

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kayo

    Powerful book. Really makes you think. Kept my interest the whole way thru. Thanks to author, publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patrick O'Neil

    It is always an intense rewarding pleasure to read new work from James Brown. His two previous memoirs, the highly acclaimed The Los Angeles Diaries, and the tremendous follow up This River, set the bar for “addiction memoirs.” Although trying to label Brown’s work as only relating to that sub-genre would be like stuffing an immensely large square peg into… well, to be honest, into what I don't know. But let me put it this way, if Brown wrote the ingredients label for your favorite food his lean It is always an intense rewarding pleasure to read new work from James Brown. His two previous memoirs, the highly acclaimed The Los Angeles Diaries, and the tremendous follow up This River, set the bar for “addiction memoirs.” Although trying to label Brown’s work as only relating to that sub-genre would be like stuffing an immensely large square peg into… well, to be honest, into what I don't know. But let me put it this way, if Brown wrote the ingredients label for your favorite food his lean and powerful prose would still stand out and demand you take notice. Thankfully Brown sticks to literature and his third, and perhaps strongest memoir, Apology To The Young Addict, gives the reader a ringside seat as Brown not only survives the wreckage of his former alcoholic/addict past, but reveals that he has come out the other side—brutally honest, introspective, and all the wiser. Apology To The Young Addict is a memoir told in connecting chapters where Brown’s “characters” are the down and out, a pair of geriatric drug addict neighbors, friends and family affected by his addiction, the rising and falling stars in Alcoholics Anonymous, and Brown himself as he navigates his own metamorphosis of recovery. Unflinching and self-reflective Brown exposes the devastation that his addiction has wrought by chronicling the decline of those around him while ultimately allowing the reader to truly see him for who he is now—a man taking responsibility for his actions and making amends for his wrongs. Apology To The Young Addict is the brilliant conclusion of Brown’s journey started in The Los Angeles Diaries—yet it stands alone as a defining homage to the human spirit and survival—an excellent heartfelt and dark memoir from a writer at the top of his game. Originally published in The Orange County Register June 4, 2020

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Ault

    I felt so many emotions while reading this collection of essays, being in recovery myself. It took me back and made me reflect on my own journey with addiction, the bad the ugly, my rock bottom, and now my recovery. It’s made me consider going to meetings to build my sober support system, to further help me stay on the right track. What I appreciate about this book is that James doesn’t shy away from any aspect of what it’s like to be an addict/alcoholic. I’ve also learned more about AA meetings I felt so many emotions while reading this collection of essays, being in recovery myself. It took me back and made me reflect on my own journey with addiction, the bad the ugly, my rock bottom, and now my recovery. It’s made me consider going to meetings to build my sober support system, to further help me stay on the right track. What I appreciate about this book is that James doesn’t shy away from any aspect of what it’s like to be an addict/alcoholic. I’ve also learned more about AA meetings so now I’m more intrigued to go to them! I highly recommend this book!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Hirsch

    The writer Richard Price once said words to the effect that you don't judge an artist by how good or bad they are at what they do; you judge them by, if you were to take away their ability to create art, whether or not they would go insane. By this standard, James Brown is one of the most important American writers working today. That he's a great writer in a technical sense in addition, with a clarion-clear voice, is just icing on the cake. In a literary landscape already glutted with memoirs (a The writer Richard Price once said words to the effect that you don't judge an artist by how good or bad they are at what they do; you judge them by, if you were to take away their ability to create art, whether or not they would go insane. By this standard, James Brown is one of the most important American writers working today. That he's a great writer in a technical sense in addition, with a clarion-clear voice, is just icing on the cake. In a literary landscape already glutted with memoirs (a lot of them self-serving) and brimming with stories of addiction (ranging from the sensational to the purely depressing), James Brown has fashioned not just a perfect piece of writing on the subject, but one that has real religious and spiritual heft to it. It may be some kind of first, a book that not only examines addiction but penetrates through it to break through and become a meditation on the conditio humana: suicide, self-destruction, self-loathing, family, death, disease, chance, God and hypocrisy, in short, everything. The stories and essays are universally strong, but standouts in my mind after having just consumed it (in less than twenty-four hours) would be the opener, "The Good Neighbors," about some seemingly innocuous octogenarians harboring a dark secret behind the bucolic facade of their garden patch and their country house, and an intense recollection of when the author's family reunion in Las Vegas almost intersected with the path (not to mention the line of fire) of the most lethal mass shooter in American history. Another piece that deserves special mention is "The Last House on the Block." I single it out because it uses the second person, which I usually find mannered. But the device is used here to great effect to put one in the mind and body of an addict, to let the reader experience the rationalizations that go on in the brain of the alcoholic telling themselves that one drink won't hurt as the chills and sweats break out across their skin. Like all the other pieces here, it weaves deftly through a minefield of what, in a lesser artist's hands, would have just been a dog's breakfast of cliches and rote testimonials familiar to anyone who's been in recovery or has had their lives touched by addiction (which I guess is all of us at this point). Sure, such stories are always therapeutic for those recounting their sins and striving to better themselves. But how often do these musings transcend being an exercise and rise to the level of literature? Not often. And even then, they don't compare to this collection. Highest recommendation.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steph Downey

    This book is brilliant for so many reasons. I'm not sure there's too many of us who can say we haven't been touched by addiction in some way, whether our own or that of someone we love, and because of that I think this book speaks to all of us on so many levels. Though addiction is not something I've ever had to battle, I know plenty who have, both friends and family, and Brown's essays hit close home. Each essay stands well on its own, but they flow together perfectly. The writing is what I expe This book is brilliant for so many reasons. I'm not sure there's too many of us who can say we haven't been touched by addiction in some way, whether our own or that of someone we love, and because of that I think this book speaks to all of us on so many levels. Though addiction is not something I've ever had to battle, I know plenty who have, both friends and family, and Brown's essays hit close home. Each essay stands well on its own, but they flow together perfectly. The writing is what I expect from Brown: honest, raw, and eloquent. The prose is stunning and real, and through each essay you feel like he is sitting next to you telling you some of the hardest stories to hear, but with enough grace and truth to keep you hanging on for more. His use of second person POV in two of the essays is brilliant and compelling, though that can easily be said for the entire book. Even if addiction has never been on your radar, this book still has so much to offer. It is an important picture of human struggle and the odds we face in looking for redemption and second chances. It can be taken in slowly, one essay at a time, or devoured in one or two sittings. The latter is probably the more likely route.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ray Lopez

    I just read all three memoirs by James Brown, The Los Angeles Diaries, The River and Apology to a Young Addict, over a period of two days. I would highly recommend taking this journey. It's challenging not to use the cliches in describing Brown's writing so I will cut to the case and tell you that his narrative style echoes that of Twain and Hemingway. Like Hemingway he honestly, and often brutally tells, his heroic story of survival and resilience with short, sharp sentences that describe the I just read all three memoirs by James Brown, The Los Angeles Diaries, The River and Apology to a Young Addict, over a period of two days. I would highly recommend taking this journey. It's challenging not to use the cliches in describing Brown's writing so I will cut to the case and tell you that his narrative style echoes that of Twain and Hemingway. Like Hemingway he honestly, and often brutally tells, his heroic story of survival and resilience with short, sharp sentences that describe the action and painful tragedies in his life. Yet at times, his prose flows like Twain writing about Jim and Huck on the river, free to love each other outside the evil in the world. It is lyrical, especially when he ends a chapter with insight and hope. I can relate to many of his experiences, addiction, loss, hospitalization, desperation, survival and redemption. Jim Brown's story, his brave bearing of his soul from prepubescence, through adolescence, adulthood, middle age and officially senior citizenship, is precious reading that will encourage and inspire you.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    TW: alcoholism, drug use, child abuse This is an incredible memoir. Brown chronicles several of his experiences through his life related to his and others' drug and alcohol abuse, along with how AA has impacted his life. You'll meet Brown as a child and adult, as a father, as a spouse, as a sponsor, and as a sponsee. His storytelling skills paint very vivid pictures of a wide array of situations, and I was engrossed from the start. It took me a while to read, as some of the stories were so intense TW: alcoholism, drug use, child abuse This is an incredible memoir. Brown chronicles several of his experiences through his life related to his and others' drug and alcohol abuse, along with how AA has impacted his life. You'll meet Brown as a child and adult, as a father, as a spouse, as a sponsor, and as a sponsee. His storytelling skills paint very vivid pictures of a wide array of situations, and I was engrossed from the start. It took me a while to read, as some of the stories were so intense that I needed to sit with them for a day or two. It was absolutely worth it to take it slowly, and I highly recommend this strategy to any other reader. Don't rush this one.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    James will be at the March 24, 2020 Pen on Fire Speaker Series & Salon. More at www.penonfire.com/speakerseries. James will be at the March 24, 2020 Pen on Fire Speaker Series & Salon. More at www.penonfire.com/speakerseries.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    I loved this book. Brown is wonderful writer, and all of his chapters are interesting and insightful. The very first chapter, "The Good Neighbors," captures your attention and interest. I also really enjoyed "Leaving Las Vegas," "God of My Understanding," and "Bone by Bone." All of the essays in this book are related to Brown's past history of addiction and his present road to recovery. I have read the first two books in this trilogy , The Los Angeles Diaries and This River, and this is as beaut I loved this book. Brown is wonderful writer, and all of his chapters are interesting and insightful. The very first chapter, "The Good Neighbors," captures your attention and interest. I also really enjoyed "Leaving Las Vegas," "God of My Understanding," and "Bone by Bone." All of the essays in this book are related to Brown's past history of addiction and his present road to recovery. I have read the first two books in this trilogy , The Los Angeles Diaries and This River, and this is as beautifully written and memorable as the others. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diana Mielecki

    Of this type of recovered drug addict book I have read, this is one of the best. The author genuinely seems to want to help prevent others from falling into addiction. While he speaks honestly and plainly, Brown avoids overly sensationalizing and wallowing in the prurient details in an effort to sell books.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dean Ramser

    One of the challenges of self-awareness is being honest with your memories. James Brown not only brings self-awareness to this memoir, his well crafted writing style moves the reader to a place of introspection and self-evaluation that the reader may not expect. Sobriety is a long journey that never ends, and Browns insightful prose invites the reader to experience his personal journey, and in doing so the reader gleams perhaps a bit more awareness of their own path.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bory Thach

    James Brown’s Apology to the Young Addict is the third book to his memoir trilogy. It reads with clarity and precision that readers will appreciate. He doesn’t hold back while detailing the harsh realities of addiction, and it explores how people are susceptible, whether a recovered AA sponsor, or middle-class elderly couple to an innocent teenage girl, nobody is spared once affected by this illness. The beauty of its seamless narration, how it moves throughout with simplicity shows the mastery James Brown’s Apology to the Young Addict is the third book to his memoir trilogy. It reads with clarity and precision that readers will appreciate. He doesn’t hold back while detailing the harsh realities of addiction, and it explores how people are susceptible, whether a recovered AA sponsor, or middle-class elderly couple to an innocent teenage girl, nobody is spared once affected by this illness. The beauty of its seamless narration, how it moves throughout with simplicity shows the mastery that James Brown has achieved as a memoirist. The accounts of addiction and sobriety contain a meticulousness that is rare and seldom found in literary writing. Each depiction is heartfelt, painful and writhing with life and death struggles that every addict must confront. A message of hope and redemption, both spiritually and physically empowering while continuing to reverberate long after the book has been put down.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jack Pearson

    "Apology to the Young Addict,"James Brown's memoir is not only a compelling story, but is in fact the quintessential framework for the understanding of alcoholism and drug addiction. James Brown will take you on a journey to a place that is only a mystery world to most people. I am positive that this book will hit home in some context of your own lives or the lives of your friends and family. James Brown pulls you into a deeper understanding that speaks to the otherwise perplexed alcoholic / dru "Apology to the Young Addict,"James Brown's memoir is not only a compelling story, but is in fact the quintessential framework for the understanding of alcoholism and drug addiction. James Brown will take you on a journey to a place that is only a mystery world to most people. I am positive that this book will hit home in some context of your own lives or the lives of your friends and family. James Brown pulls you into a deeper understanding that speaks to the otherwise perplexed alcoholic / drug addict as well as people that do not have an addiction problem. I got a clear understanding of what fuels the perpetual downward spiral of the addicted to what is key for the survival of this roller coaster life. Thanks James Brown , I felt a personal connection to this work and so will others.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Apology to the Young Addict is a harrowing, deeply moving and inspiring tale of pain, loss and redemption. I've read The L.A Diaries and This River, and Apology to the Young Addict is a superb last act in a trilogy of books I cherish. It also stands alone as a testament to Brown's immense skill, courage and unswerving honesty. He is a writer to trust in terrifying times. Highly recommended and Bravo!!!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dirk Hanson

    If you think you've had it with addiction memoirs, James Brown will change your mind completely. Brutally honest, tender, forthright, challenging, these essays lay bare the day-to-day struggle to overcome addiction and the remarkable, perhaps unearned second chances we can create for ourselves. A compelling read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    James M

    One true sentence Jim Brown needs to be read. Most writers never write that one true sentence. Jim's memoir is crowded with true sentences. He's writing about people we all know. Some of those folks are ourselves.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    I’m super blah towards AA and the author (rightfully for him) writes about it a lot, it clearly plays a huge part in what got him sober. Even that difference in sobriety journey aside, this is a really good book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  19. 4 out of 5

    Francisco

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kat

  21. 4 out of 5

    lynne hassall

  22. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

  26. 4 out of 5

    Abby Schneider

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mario Guerrero

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  29. 5 out of 5

    Leighann

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alvin John

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