This new book by the New York Times culture writer David Itzkoff is actually part memoir/part rant. Itzkoff writes of the trials of growing up the son of a prosperous fur merchant, who also happens to be a cocaine addict. While an excellent provider for his wife and two children, Gerald Itzkoff was not a fatherly figure. He was rarely home and when he was, he was either high or coming down from a high.
Dave’s rebellion against his father took the form of becoming a heavy drug user himself. While criticizing his father for his drug-induced absences from his life, Dave coasts through Princeton and early adulthood in a fog of marijuana and other drugs. Eventually Gerald is clean and sober (although we have no idea how and when that happened) and he and Dave attempt to reconcile. They try couples therapy and shared activities. Eventually Dave begins interviewing Gerald about his early life and how it led to his drug addiction.
Notably absent from this memoir is much about Dave’s mother. She appears to have been a serious drug user herself, but she escapes the blame for Dave’s confused and sad childhood. Also absent is any true emotion. I did not have any of the expected feelings of empathy, sadness or anger I would expect from hearing this tale. I suspect much is being held in reserve for the next book!
That said, Cocaine’s Son is fairly interesting and well-written. Thanks once again to the LibraryThing Early Reviewer Program for sending me this book.
To be published in hardcover-January 2011-Random House