The Night of the Gun

A reporter investigates the darkest story of his life. His own.

The Night of the Gun

From David Carr (1956–2015), the “undeniably brilliant and dogged journalist” (Entertainment Weekly) and author of the instant New York Times bestseller that the Chicago Sun-Times called “a compelling tale of drug abuse, despair, and, finally, hope.”

Do we remember only the stories we can live with? The ones that make us look good in the rearview mirror? In The Night of the Gun, David Carr redefines memoir with the revelatory story of his years as an addict and chronicles his journey from crack-house regular to regular columnist for The New York Times. Built on sixty videotaped interviews, legal and medical records, and three years of reporting, The Night of the Gun is a ferocious tale that uses the tools of journalism to fact-check the past. Carr’s investigation of his own history reveals that his odyssey through addiction, recovery, cancer, and life as a single parent was far more harrowing—and, in the end, more miraculous—than he allowed himself to remember.

In one sense, the story of The Night of the Gun is a common one—a white-boy misdemeanant lands in a ditch and is restored to sanity through the love of his family, a God of his understanding, and a support group that will go unnamed. But when the whole truth is told, it does not end there. As a reporter and columnist at the nation’s best newspaper, he prospered, but gained no more adeptness at mood-altering substances. He set out to become a nice suburban alcoholic and succeeded all too well, including two more arrests, one that included a night in jail wearing a tuxedo.

Ferocious and eloquent, courageous and bitingly funny, The Night of the Gun unravels the ways memory helps us not only create our lives, but survive them. This is “an odyssey you’ll find hard to forget” (People, 4 stars).

“A fierce, self-lacerating tale…writing full of that special journalistic energy that is driven by a combination of reporting and intelligence.” —Pete Hamlin, The New York Times

“A remarkable narrative of redemption…Carr writes with grace and precision….With grit and a recovering user’s candor, Mr. Carr has written an arresting tale.” —Edward Kosner, The Wall Street Journal
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 400 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416541530 | 
  • June 2009

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Night of the Gun includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

“You remember the story you can live with, not the one that happened.”

In The Night of the Gun, David Carr, a renowned journalist for the New York Times, uses his reporting acuity to construct a memoir of his life: a sordid, harrowing tale of a drug addict attempting to reestablish some sense of his humanity. Through a series of setbacks and mishaps, David transforms from a privileged suburban kid into a hardened crack addict with a criminal record, and ultimately winds up a successful journalist and father of three. However, it isn’t just David telling the story.

Admitting the fickle nature of memory (especially that of a self proclaimed drug-addled maniac), David uses a slew of primary sources—video interviews with friends and family, medical records, newspaper clippings, and photographs—to retrace the lost years of his life, and to reconcile his own recollection of his journey through drugs, cancer, and single fatherhood. Self deprecating and articulate, Carr tracks his own narrative while simultaneously using his loved ones to s see more

Articles About This Book

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Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Off the Shelf Staff

Sometimes you have to go all the way down the road in order tocome back up and sometimes that journey leads to a really excellent book. Each of these memoirstells a story that is as universal as it isuniquely personal.

About the Author

David Carr
Photo Credit:

David Carr

David Carr was a reporter and the “Media Equation” columnist for The New York Times. Previously, he wrote for the Atlantic Monthly and New York magazine and was editor of the Twin Cities Reader in Minneapolis. The author of the acclaimed memoir, The Night of the Gun, he passed away in February 2015.

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