“Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man” is a mesmerizing bummer. Reading it is like letting the needle down on a Nick Drake album.
It’s the story of how Bill Clegg lost it all — his clients, his apartment, his loyal boyfriend, his sanity — one crack hit at a time. It’s a story that ranges over several years but finds its dramatic center of gravity during one especially dark two-month binge, during which Mr. Clegg manages to fritter away some $70,000 on crack and Ketel One vodka and on the elegant hotel rooms he often shares with greasy characters, including male hookers. He picks up a cabdriver by asking, “Do you party?”
Clegg on that first taste of crack: “It is the warmest, most tender caress he has ever felt and then, as it recedes, the coldest hand.
“It’s a remarkable achievement when a writer can evoke the most desperate episodes of addiction with the unflinching honesty required to make such a memoir worth reading, yet somehow manage to completely transcend sleaze, sordidness, and vapid self-justification. Bill Clegg’s story of a man-largely locked in hotel rooms, engaged in a desperate, heart-wrenching battle with himself–is destined to become a cult classic of writing on drug addiction.” – [Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting]