Crash & Burn by Artie Lange with Anthony Bozza (4 out of 5)

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Warning: This is not a shiny, happy book. It is funny in parts, although it’s darkly comedic. Artie Lange is a well-known comedian, best known for his regular gig on TheHowardSternShow, and for his ribald comedy shows, even at one point selling out Carnegie Hall. The end, as it is for many of the rich and famous, was swift and unrelenting in its grip. Artie found himself addicted to prescription drugs and heroin, and deeply depressed. He began to push those around him away, including his longtime coworkers on Stern, and his family begins to lose him as well. The heroin, especially, does a number on him that you aren’t sure he’s going to come out of. The depression combined with that, does almost do him in. Artie isn’t one to make excuses for his past behaviors, he’s brutally honest, especially in the telling of his suicide attempt (a very difficult chapter for me to get through, such is the level of pain he manages to convey to the reader). You can’t set the book down, yet at the same time, there were parts where I had to do just that and come back to it. Artie is a tough dude. He gets out of the grip of the addictions and begins to fight for his right to live. First, he has to rebuild all the bridges he’s burned behind him. Second and equally important, he has to fight for his life by remaining sober. Unorthodox, blunt, and yes, inspirational, this is a book that will have you reading like a fiend until the last page.

There isn’t much not to like here. The only thing I didn’t care for is that a number of addicts, upon recovery, go through the twelve steps and forgiveness and apology to those who were wronged. Artie, as unapologetic as he is in his comedy routine to those that he is carving up like a turkey dinner, seems to have that ability to carry that characteristic of his personality to his personal life. Meaning what, exactly? To my view, he seems begrudgingly grateful that he is alive, but he doesn’t seem hell-bent on making up for his crappy behavior to those that he shat upon in his addictive state. A number of the books I have read in the past by addicts have been marked by a desire to make up for not only lost time, but for lost alliances and family ties that were undone by the addictive behavior. Not really the vibe you get from Artie’s book, so that lost a lot of credibility with me.

Otherwise, a frank, startling look at success, addiction, losing your job, friends, and family, the evils of depression, and the long hard road back to wellness. Artie Lange has done an excellent job chronicling his path.

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~ by generationgbooks on August 5, 2014.

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