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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of August 31, 2009

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Early Word, Belated August, Early September…

The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder
by Stephen Elliott

Be afraid…

The Adderall Diaries is phenomenal. With jittery finesse and a reformed tweaker's eye for detail, Stephen Elliott captures the terrifying, hilarious, heart-strangling reality of a life whose scorched-earth physical and psycho-emotional dimensions no one could have invented — they absolutely had to be lived. By all rights, the author should either be dead or chewing his fingers in a bus station. Instead, he may well have written the memoir of an entire generation. –Jerry Stahl

Be very afraid… Somewhere along the gamut between amphetamine-mined gonzo lit and brilliance, author and cultural critic Stephen Elliott, who’s most recent novel is the supremely misnomered Happy Baby, who’s most colorfully titled may be My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up, and who has hit the requisite mark in Best American Non-Required Reading, this time around zeroes in with his truth-in-advertising tome The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder.

Talk about melancholy and misery mine… Beleaguered by a hardscrabble Chicago past with crime, sex, hard-core drugs, and violent family problems, and current difficulties with writer's block, substance abuse, relationship troubles, the author was just resuming a daily regimen of Adderall ingestion as he begins his book. (Off the drug, he lacks concentration for writing). Back on it and experimenting with its rapid-fire effects, he was better able to augment his energies into writing down his high-wired thoughts. His new book would be about a murder trial getting underway in San Francisco, where he had re-settled. In the spring of 2007, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Hans Reiser was accused of killing his Russian-born wife Nina, whose body had yet to be found. The author's interest in the case was generated by a confession of Reiser's friend Sean Sturgeon, with whom Nina had an affair. The confession reminded Elliott of his father's shot-a-man-in-Reno-just-to-watch-him-die tale that he killed a man who had publicly humiliated him the year before Elliott was born. From there, Elliott’s fashions a work that is gracious and gothic, scattered and scorching, that takes in the decline of the Silicone Valley and the advent of Paris Hilton, incorporating themes of crime, murder, drugs and sadomasochistic sex… and all the while pondering personal confession and American introspection.

MORE NONFICTION

Always Compete: An Inside Look at Pete Carroll and the USC Football Juggernaut
by Steve Bisheff

Shake the Devil Off: A True Story of the Murder That Rocked New Orleans
by Ethan Brown

The Lost Child: A Mother's Story
by Julie Myerson

Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World
by Douglas Hunter

Part of the Pride: My Life among the Big Cats of Africa
by Kevin Richardson

The Test of Our Times: America under Siege… and How We Can Be Safe Again
by Tom Ridge, Lary Bloom

FICTION

Evil at Heart (Gretchen Lowell Series #3)
by Chelsea Cain

Devil's Kiss
by Sarwat Chadda

Catching Fire (Hunger Games Series #2)
by Suzanne Collins

Spartan Gold (Fargo Adventure Series #1)
by Clive Cussler, Grant Blackwood

Homer and Langley
by E. L. Doctorow

A Village Life
by Louise Gluck

Blame
by Michelle Huneven

A Gate at the Stairs
by Lorrie Moore

Spire
by Richard North Patterson

Viola in Reel Life
by Adriana Trigiani

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