The Book of Drugs
Mike Doughty
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Buy *The Book of Drugs: A Memoir* by Mike Doughty online

The Book of Drugs: A Memoir
Mike Doughty
Da Capo Press
256 pages
January 2012
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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The first thing here: the title is misleading. This is not a book about drugs. It is a book about Mike Doughty, the singer for a band called Soul Coughing. It is peripherally about drugs inasmuch as Doughty took them, but they almost don't even seem relevant to his story. It's not like he was Keith Richards or Jimi Hendrix, some doomed musician with a wealth of talent who ultimately succumbed to substances. Rather, Doughty has his bit with drinking and a trifle with heroin, goes to AA and is over it. The title seems a bit off target.

Doughty is a fine writer, however, and when he writes in his preface that "My default is to feel like a fraud," you want to believe him. You do, but he employs a literary device where he'll use a straight line to indicate the name of someone. It's a horrible thing to use, and why he doesn't use real names is up for anyone's guess. He does use the names of real human beings from time to time, then leaves a space open where a name should be and puts a line through it. If he's not willing to be real and honest, he is a fraud.

The other quality that comes through The Book of Drugs is that Doughty is not a likeable person. He refers to himself over and over as a rock star, but he never was. He had some success with Soul Coughing (though most people will probably never have heard of them). He makes one statement that is truly ridiculous: "We were a relatively successful cult band, but I think that, had my bandmates chosen to let me be a bandleader, we could've been Led Zeppelin." The remark is so outrageous that it almost doesn't deserve addressing.

But The Book of Drugs: A Memoir does take you inside the head of a creative mind, and that's worth reading about.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2012

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