There are a bunch of addiction memoirs out there, and I thought I would provide a review of them. Who better than me? I was searching for good content for my website that would interest readers and be helpful. Yes, I want you to buy my book "Up From Down", but I also want to give some honest opinons and reviews. I have read a few already and will read some more.
1) Dina Kucera's "Everything I never wanted to Be". I haven't read this one but I did find an interesting video link to her reading from the introduction. That was enough to make me want to read it. Here is the link. See if it doesn't have the same effect on you.
Update: I finally got around to reading "Everything I never wanted to be". Here is my book review:
”Easy to read but lots of bad language. Apparently, Dina was a standup comic at one time and that is the style of writing. For the first 20 pages or so it is like a stand up routine with lots of jokes:
“I was a tiny, stick-skinny, messy-haired, dirty-faced six-year-old, and I said the f word more than any other human being on the face of the earth. I have no idea why I loved that word so much. I think it was because it got such a grand reaction. Adults’ eyes would roll back in their heads and then they would tell me, “The language, Dina! My goodness! Is this how Jesus wants you to speak?” I didn’t think Jesus cared. I still don’t. I think Jesus has bigger fish to fry. Like starving children all over the world. Like hatred and racism and murderers and rapists. Me saying the f word is not something Jesus is going to have time to address for a long, long time.”
Well,you get the picture. Crude and kinda funny but lots of foul language which is not really my cup of tea. Some people like it I suppose.
I have to admit some of it is really funny. Like the time she drank some lemon aide as a kid and swallowed some seeds and another kid told her that she was going to grow a lemon tree in her belly. I laughed so hard I almost feel out of my chair.
Later on in the book when Dina starts talking about her daughter and her drug use, something else begin to shine thru. You see the heartache of a parent with a child on drugs.
“just for kicks, one night I said a prayer, which is something I hadn’t done for many, many years. I asked God to watch over Jen since she wouldn’t allow us to watch over her. I prayed for sleep without night terrors. I said that if I could have one night’s sleep I would be ready for whatever comes tomorrow. I was just so tired. Please God, can I have one night without waking up in terror? I woke up the next morning and walked into the living room. It was sort of dark outside. John asked if I was sick. I said I wasn’t. He said that they had been trying to wake me all day but I wouldn’t get up. I had fallen asleep the night before and hadn’t woken up until the following evening. Then I remembered my prayer telling God I was tired. I looked over and Jen was sitting on the couch watching TV. That’s when I started to believe in God again. I started to believe that someone was watching over me.”
The book winds down and here is near the ending:
“I know one Sunday morning, the pastor is going to say something that I completely disagree with. He’s going to talk about the gay people, and I’m going to shift in my seat. But what I feel right now is that I need to take what I need, and leave the rest. Take what fills my heart, and leave the rest. Because really, at the end of my life if what I believe in is wrong, then I will deal with God, not this church or any church. So I guess, yes, I’m an infiltrator. And so far I’m getting away with it. I am getting spiritual enlightenment, a heart full of love, and there is a Starbucks right by the front door.”
All in all this is not an easy book to rate. I don’t think most Christians are going to like it because of all the foul language. And I didn’t find a lot of deep understanding about what causes addiction or what to do about it, but I don’t find that in many books. But parts of it were funny. I guess I would rate this one
3 stars out of a possible 5.
I just finished Mike Tyson’s memoir “Undisputed Truth”. I am glad I read it and I do recommend it. It is 552 pages long not including the Epilogue. It is an easy read but takes several days because it is so long. It could and should have been shorter. The language of the book is the language of the street and the reader should expect a lot of profanity.
That being said, let me tell you some of the highlights and my impressions. It is an honest book I think and he tells the kind of life he lived without sugar coating. For the boxing aficionado, he goes into a lot of detail about his relationship with Cus D’Amato and the art of boxing. That part was good reading.
He tells about his early life of being in an alcoholic home without a father and being traumatized by beatings, something that no doubt lead to his later alcoholism and drug addiction. He is honest about his juvenile delinquency and sums it up pretty good on page 36 saying , “I did a lot of bad sh**”.
He goes into detail about his highly publicized relationship with Robin Givens and her mother. He sums it by saying “I was traumatized by the relationship. Those were cold broads.”
He goes into tremendous detail about his rape conviction involving Desiree Washington. He would have us believe that he was an innocent victim. Maybe. In my opinion, he doesn’t quit pull it off, although he did succeed in planting some doubt in my mind that he was guilty. He also portrays himself as a victim of racism:
“I knew I was supposed to be convicted, that was just how the system worked. I’m a descendant of slaves. That people can respect me as a human being, to this day, is something that I have doubts about. I was the nigga and that cowboy prosecutor was going to put his spurred cowboy boots in my face.”
That doesn’t quite succeed either as he seemed to me more a victim of his own foolishness.
Much of the rest of the book is spent detailing a life of debauchery, cocaine addiction, and occasional acts of violence. Incredible wealth and fame seemed to open wide the doors of sin for him and he entered into it with abandon. There is a good expose of Don King the fight promoter as well as a good look at how opportunists take advantage of the legal system to try and fleece celebrities. At times the constant descriptions of partying and excess wear a little thin and it could all of been said in a shorter amount of time. But his journey is the familiar journey of all addicts sinking lower and lower. Along the way he introduces us to some individuals who begin to help and steer him into a better path.
The book is at its best when he talks about the pain and heartache of losing his 4 year daughter. We begin to see the human side of him and not just a lecher. We hear about his involvement with AA and a slow process of maturity. Towards the end he gets married and paints himself as a committed family man. There are signs of real spiritual growth::
“People often ask me what I regret in my life . I regret sleeping with all those women. I used to brag about that but now I’m so embarrassed by my conquests”
In the end of the book in the postscript Mike admits he slipped in August of 2013. At this writing he has been clean about 90 days or so, and is still struggling. Remember him in your prayers.
Author of “Up from Down- a True Story of recovery from Addiction”