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With sharp wit, self-deprecating humor, and penetrating honesty, New York Times journalist Dave Itzkoff turns a keen eye on his life with the mysterious, maddening, much-loved man of whom he writes, “for the first eight years of my life I seem to have believed he was the product of my imagination.” Itzkoff’s father was the man who lumbered home at night and spent hours mur With sharp wit, self-deprecating humor, and penetrating honesty, New York Times journalist Dave Itzkoff turns a keen eye on his life with the mysterious, maddening, much-loved man of whom he writes, “for the first eight years of my life I seem to have believed he was the product of my imagination.” Itzkoff’s father was the man who lumbered home at night and spent hours murmuring to his small son about his dreams and hopes for the boy’s future, and the fears and failures of his own past. He was the hard-nosed New York fur merchant with an unexpectedly emotional soul; a purveyor of well-worn anecdotes and bittersweet life lessons; a trusted ally in childhood revolts against motherly discipline and Hebrew school drudgery; a friend, advisor, and confidant. He was also a junkie. In Cocaine’s Son, Itzkoff chronicles his coming of age in the disjointed shadow of his father’s double life—struggling to reconcile his love for the garrulous protector and provider, and his loathing for the pitiful addict. Through his adolescent and teen years Itzkoff is haunted by the spectacle of his father’s drug-fueled depressions and disappearances. In college, Itzkoff plunges into his own seemingly fated bout with substance abuse. And later, an emotional therapy session ends in the intense certainty that he will never overcome the same demons that have driven the older man. But when his father finally gets clean, a long “morning after” begins for them both. And on a road trip across the country and back into memory, in search of clues and revelations, together they discover that there may be more binding them than ever separated them. Unsparing and heartbreaking, mordantly funny and powerfully felt, Cocaine’s Son clears a place for Dave Itzkoff in the forefront of contemporary memoirists.


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With sharp wit, self-deprecating humor, and penetrating honesty, New York Times journalist Dave Itzkoff turns a keen eye on his life with the mysterious, maddening, much-loved man of whom he writes, “for the first eight years of my life I seem to have believed he was the product of my imagination.” Itzkoff’s father was the man who lumbered home at night and spent hours mur With sharp wit, self-deprecating humor, and penetrating honesty, New York Times journalist Dave Itzkoff turns a keen eye on his life with the mysterious, maddening, much-loved man of whom he writes, “for the first eight years of my life I seem to have believed he was the product of my imagination.” Itzkoff’s father was the man who lumbered home at night and spent hours murmuring to his small son about his dreams and hopes for the boy’s future, and the fears and failures of his own past. He was the hard-nosed New York fur merchant with an unexpectedly emotional soul; a purveyor of well-worn anecdotes and bittersweet life lessons; a trusted ally in childhood revolts against motherly discipline and Hebrew school drudgery; a friend, advisor, and confidant. He was also a junkie. In Cocaine’s Son, Itzkoff chronicles his coming of age in the disjointed shadow of his father’s double life—struggling to reconcile his love for the garrulous protector and provider, and his loathing for the pitiful addict. Through his adolescent and teen years Itzkoff is haunted by the spectacle of his father’s drug-fueled depressions and disappearances. In college, Itzkoff plunges into his own seemingly fated bout with substance abuse. And later, an emotional therapy session ends in the intense certainty that he will never overcome the same demons that have driven the older man. But when his father finally gets clean, a long “morning after” begins for them both. And on a road trip across the country and back into memory, in search of clues and revelations, together they discover that there may be more binding them than ever separated them. Unsparing and heartbreaking, mordantly funny and powerfully felt, Cocaine’s Son clears a place for Dave Itzkoff in the forefront of contemporary memoirists.

30 review for Cocaine's Son: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Um, alright. I am not really sure how to review this book. Allegedly it’s about a boy “coming of age” under the specter of his father’s cocaine addiction. First of all, he’s in college by page 44 so it’s not really a childhood story. Also, for the first half of the book, you could replace “getting high” with “working” and not have to change anything else. Kid has charismatic and often absent father: welcome to the 1970s/1980s. Where was the grit? The horrible, life-changing moments? There were n Um, alright. I am not really sure how to review this book. Allegedly it’s about a boy “coming of age” under the specter of his father’s cocaine addiction. First of all, he’s in college by page 44 so it’s not really a childhood story. Also, for the first half of the book, you could replace “getting high” with “working” and not have to change anything else. Kid has charismatic and often absent father: welcome to the 1970s/1980s. Where was the grit? The horrible, life-changing moments? There were none. The biggest story about his childhood involved getting out of Hebrew school and his father was only tangentially involved. This is really a memoir of a random dude with a tense relationship with his father. I don’t know, maybe it’s a credit to his mother for keeping things semi-functioning around the household. And this is no cautionary tale. Apparently you can have a long marriage and highly successful self-made business and still be a major cokehead. Go figure. Once again, a memoir sold a certain way in reviews that was completely different in execution.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    I so wanted to like this book. After all, I'm a big fan of stories of recovery and redemption and one of my guilty TV pleasures is the A&E show, INTERVENTION. But the book was a disappointment from the very beginning. For a topic so freighted with the potential for drama (a childhood shadowed by the specter of addiction), this was curiously bland. The writing, although it was competent, clear, and simple, was also colorless and flat. The author seemed to ramble and never develop themes that migh I so wanted to like this book. After all, I'm a big fan of stories of recovery and redemption and one of my guilty TV pleasures is the A&E show, INTERVENTION. But the book was a disappointment from the very beginning. For a topic so freighted with the potential for drama (a childhood shadowed by the specter of addiction), this was curiously bland. The writing, although it was competent, clear, and simple, was also colorless and flat. The author seemed to ramble and never develop themes that might have become interesting (e.g. he mentions becoming kind of obsessed with counting syllables, but never does anything with the idea). The book seemed to go on and on in a voice I would say could be best described as a monotonous drone. What did the author want me to feel? The worst thing about Cocaine's Son is that I never felt any kind of sympathy for the characters, not because they were not worthy, but because the author never gave me any reason to.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    I was willing to play along with the author's hyperbolic memoir until the anedote about how installing a ceiling fan with his father "dismantled" their relationship and all the progress they had made in counseling. Oh, it took an extra day to install the fan after hiring someone off craigslist. There were ladders in his apartment all day! His dad said "whoost" too many times! The horrors! Hopefully the author grows up by the end of his story, but I decided there are many books I'd rather read in I was willing to play along with the author's hyperbolic memoir until the anedote about how installing a ceiling fan with his father "dismantled" their relationship and all the progress they had made in counseling. Oh, it took an extra day to install the fan after hiring someone off craigslist. There were ladders in his apartment all day! His dad said "whoost" too many times! The horrors! Hopefully the author grows up by the end of his story, but I decided there are many books I'd rather read instead.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Arwen Zhang

    Yeah... I'm not sure what I'd say about the book. It was interesting, to say the least. The beginning was okay, but then the middle and the end was a whole mess that I did not understand one bit. There was a lot happening, and once I finished I literally didn't understand one thing. Yeah... I'm not sure what I'd say about the book. It was interesting, to say the least. The beginning was okay, but then the middle and the end was a whole mess that I did not understand one bit. There was a lot happening, and once I finished I literally didn't understand one thing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Avocado

    memoirs are my favorite genre of literature, especially ones about children with difficult relationships with their parents. yet i found this one difficult to read for a variety of reasons. itzkoffs prose is engaging but a bit of a slog at times. he works for the new york times and is princeton educated (no i am NOT jealous i have only wanted to attend princeton since i could read) and by god does he want you to know it. i think a lot of the really powerful moments in the book border on trite onl memoirs are my favorite genre of literature, especially ones about children with difficult relationships with their parents. yet i found this one difficult to read for a variety of reasons. itzkoffs prose is engaging but a bit of a slog at times. he works for the new york times and is princeton educated (no i am NOT jealous i have only wanted to attend princeton since i could read) and by god does he want you to know it. i think a lot of the really powerful moments in the book border on trite only because of his writing style and its a real shame. finding your father in a crackhouse covered in blood and mucus and filth should have been more distressing than it was. but it somehow wasnt at the same time. i think itzkoff wanted to cover up the horror of certain scenes, and it worked, but to the books detriment. there is just something slightly offputting about how itzkoff frames himself too. memoir writers tend to be remarkably unreliable. nic sheff's tweak: growing up on methamphetamines is a great example of this; his father ended up writing a book telling his own side of the ordeal (which i havent actually read yet but perhaps ill get to this year). memoirs are not LIES. they are simply recollections of a persons life, or specifically a moment or moments thereof, and everyone has a warped view of themselves in their minds. in this case i really did not like how itzkoff comes off as the reliable son who was always fed up by his fathers drug habit and bizarre behaviors. also, his own flaws arent that interesting to me. a princeton educated nyt writer from a wealthy background who had a hard time getting a date? who finds it hard to deal with his difficult father? oh my goodness how compelling. i dont mean to be snide. there is a lot to enjoy about this book. but there is also a lot of bullshit. itzkoff himself has a typical liberal view on race and is aware of his own class privilege but i cant help feel that its still a little condescending, like...pointing it out doesnt make it alright that you grew up rich and others grow up miserably poor. and nowhere is this highlighted better than when he and his father visit adelphina, a woman from his fathers past in new orleans. her home is absolutely devastated by hurricane katrina, she has lost two husbands (alcoholism/divorce and cancer) and a son (heroin/prison), and despite being there from day one in the itzkoff fur business, she is not fabulously wealthy and does not send her children to new york city private schools like itzkoff senior had. adelphina lives in a poor black neighborhood repeatedly devastated by floods and despite her difficult life she is kind and listens to itzkoff senior rant away like a lunatic. and something about that scene and how the author merely acknowledged how a poor black woman, who dealt with his grandfathers and fathers vitriolic abuse and took care of them, to the point of even being by his grandfathers bedside when he died, combined with itzkoff senior whining about Black Community Leaders (david does call his dad out on it), probably wouldnt have received as much money from his grandfather as his father did....it made me.....so angry. just so angry. no dude, it doesnt make it all okay just because you recognize that youre rich and everyone else is poor. it doesnt, alright? i know memoirs are selfish affairs but god, you raised this whole point on the first few fucking pages by talking about how 'shocked' you were that others didnt live like you did! yet, on the other hand, i really enjoyed how itzkoff and his father slowly grew together after decades of legitimately difficult hard emotional work. i found myself being genuinely touched and getting emotional towards the end. the wedding chapter felt human and beautiful and i really loved that he got a happy ending and all that entailed. i found myself enjoying this book despite it all but i really dont think its a must read. it tries way too hard to be this touching narrative when i think itzkoff shouldve just been more straightforward. it was alright. nothing more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Koren

    I found this to be an extremely self-centered look at the author's father's addiction. There was no introspection into why his father became an addict or why his father's actions caused him to have the feelings he did. It seemed like his father couldnt do anything right and this was most apparent when the two went into counseling together. Instead of appreciating his father for doing this, he was very critical of everything his father said. The blurb on the front cover said the book was funny, h I found this to be an extremely self-centered look at the author's father's addiction. There was no introspection into why his father became an addict or why his father's actions caused him to have the feelings he did. It seemed like his father couldnt do anything right and this was most apparent when the two went into counseling together. Instead of appreciating his father for doing this, he was very critical of everything his father said. The blurb on the front cover said the book was funny, hopeful, sad, painful and beautifully told. I didnt really see any of this. It is a short book or I probably wouldnt have finished it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    Memoirs are tricky to rate. I knew nothing about this book and went into it with no expectations. It’s a personal peek into someone’s life- someone who certainly didn’t have the luxury of a comfortable and loving childhood like I did. I appreciate how candid the author was about the relationship between him and his father and how cocaine tears a person apart. At one point, I called my parents and thanked both of them for not using cocaine (or any other drug). This is not a self-help book, and it Memoirs are tricky to rate. I knew nothing about this book and went into it with no expectations. It’s a personal peek into someone’s life- someone who certainly didn’t have the luxury of a comfortable and loving childhood like I did. I appreciate how candid the author was about the relationship between him and his father and how cocaine tears a person apart. At one point, I called my parents and thanked both of them for not using cocaine (or any other drug). This is not a self-help book, and it doesn’t even have a lot of ‘crazy’ in it. However, it gives me a glimpse a situation I really don’t know much about, and I’m okay with that.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Harley

    This was a hard book to finish. It started off strong, but felt utterly pointless in the middle. I don't know why I finished this book... This was a hard book to finish. It started off strong, but felt utterly pointless in the middle. I don't know why I finished this book...

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

    Took a while to finish. I struggled to keep momentum. There are some lovely sections, the finale is quite special. There’s just a whole lot of Shawshank to get through before the Redemption.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Abbe

    Amazon.com Review Dave Itzkoff on Cocaine's Son Whatever the circumstances of our childhoods, we all grow up to become adults with questions about our parents and how they shaped the trajectories of our lives. What lessons were our mothers and fathers trying to impart to us? What pitfalls did they want us to avoid, and what mistakes of theirs did we end up repeating anyway? And how might we treat our parents differently if we were given a second chance with them?These are all questions I con Amazon.com Review Dave Itzkoff on Cocaine's Son Whatever the circumstances of our childhoods, we all grow up to become adults with questions about our parents and how they shaped the trajectories of our lives. What lessons were our mothers and fathers trying to impart to us? What pitfalls did they want us to avoid, and what mistakes of theirs did we end up repeating anyway? And how might we treat our parents differently if we were given a second chance with them?These are all questions I confronted when I wrote about my relationship with my father, except that we were dealt a further challenge: for the first 25 years of my life, beginning in the 1970s, my father was addicted to cocaine. He was outwardly a successful man with a wife, two children, and a thriving business, but he struggled privately–-and sometimes not-so-privately-–with his drug habit, attempting everything from psychotherapy to voluntary institutionalization to cold-turkey purges to kick his addiction. When he finally got clean, I was an almost full-grown man, desperate to know who my father had been in the time I had missed, and as fascinated to discover who he had since become as he was to learn the same about me.Cocaine’s Son is as much my story as it is my father’s: my chronicle of growing up enthralled by a man I could not fully understand, of our sometimes painful efforts, after his drug problem was conquered, to remain in each other’s lives, and the unexpected twists and turns that invariably led us back to each other. Whether or not your life has been touched by addiction issues, I hope this is a story with something to say about your own experience as someone’s child or parent. From Itzkoff’s distress and embarrassment at his father’s behavior are tangible in this unflinching portrait of a troubled childhood. While the critics generally enjoyed this new addition to the genre, a few flaws hampered that enjoyment. Some thought that Itzkoff’s story, with its rosy, upper-middle-class veneer, lacks the edge of similar memoirs, while others raised objections to Itzkoff’s singular focus on his father, whose larger-than-life personality eclipses the other characters—including Itzkoff himself. He spends a considerable amount of time analyzing his father’s actions in an attempt to understand them, and these frequent ruminations, according to Entertainment Weekly, can be intrusive and redundant. When a fellow journalist publishes a book, the critics often take it easy on him or her. That the reviews were not glowing means there’s less here than meets the eye.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Memoirs are understandably intensely personal for the author but they should be relatable as well. Unfortunately this book only fell into one of those categories. I appreciated that the book was not necessarily constructed chronologically but reflecting on the past as the author experienced things now. Our present always colors our recollections and it was easy to see how Itzkoff's childhood with an addicted father made him the man he is today but also how the man he is now affects his view of t Memoirs are understandably intensely personal for the author but they should be relatable as well. Unfortunately this book only fell into one of those categories. I appreciated that the book was not necessarily constructed chronologically but reflecting on the past as the author experienced things now. Our present always colors our recollections and it was easy to see how Itzkoff's childhood with an addicted father made him the man he is today but also how the man he is now affects his view of the past. This is hard to say since they are real people but the characters were disagreeable and unsympathetic. It seemed almost cruel for Itzkoff (the younger) to force his father through literally revisiting the people and places that featured largely in his addiction. I also wondered throughout why Itkoff's mother, who was lauded in the opening chapter and revealed to also have dabbled in drug use, and his especially estranged sister were spared the harsh treatment...or really any substantial mention Throwing me over the edge was Itzkoff's $5 words and "poetic" turns of phrases that did little to enhance the story. Note: this was a Goodreads First Read so anything I say can and will be used against me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Linda C

    I don't know quite what to say about this book. I will say that I'm glad that I listened to it as an audio book on my drive to and fro from work and didn't waste time actually reading it. While David Itzkoff seems like quite a pleasant guy, his father does not. His father seems altogether unpleasant, but that nastiness does not appear to be related to his cocaine use. His father did unpleasant things, whether he was high or not. However, Dad never did anything quite unpleasant enough to warrant a I don't know quite what to say about this book. I will say that I'm glad that I listened to it as an audio book on my drive to and fro from work and didn't waste time actually reading it. While David Itzkoff seems like quite a pleasant guy, his father does not. His father seems altogether unpleasant, but that nastiness does not appear to be related to his cocaine use. His father did unpleasant things, whether he was high or not. However, Dad never did anything quite unpleasant enough to warrant a 200+ page memoir, which resulted in numerous recitations of the same dull memories, over and over again, including Dad's sexual inexperience and Dad's discovery of his own father's glass eye, which apparently was quite a big deal in the family. Dad was domineering, overbearing and refused to take responsibility for any of his shortcomings. David Itzkoff's sister was never even named in the book, identified only as "my sister", leaving one to conclude that she didn't want to be associated with such drivel. While Itzkoff's writing is sharp and witty, overall this is a boring book. Don't waste your time on this one.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erin M

    First off, I have to clarify my rating for this book. I really enjoyed it, but had to take one star away because of all the typos. It was so bad it actually distracted me from reading at some points. I did receive this book in a giveaway as an advance copy, so I'm hoping there will still be some more proofreading and edits done. Other than that, I really enjoyed Itzkoff's portrait of his father and their relationship. It was painful, complicated, but also simple, in the ways that many people stru First off, I have to clarify my rating for this book. I really enjoyed it, but had to take one star away because of all the typos. It was so bad it actually distracted me from reading at some points. I did receive this book in a giveaway as an advance copy, so I'm hoping there will still be some more proofreading and edits done. Other than that, I really enjoyed Itzkoff's portrait of his father and their relationship. It was painful, complicated, but also simple, in the ways that many people struggle with familial relationships, and then add addiction to the equation, and all those qualities become even more pronounced. I am in general a fan of "addiction memoirs," I guess if I had to categorize them as such, but Itzkoff, in talking about his father's struggles, didn't shy away from also delving into his personal insecurities in a way that I found refreshing. I also found the inclusion of so much information about Itzkoff's father's involvement as a fur trader fascinating. The backdrop of this profession added to the rawness of the narrative.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    Itzkoff's memoir is funny, honest, and touching. The book is a rather nonjudgmental examination of addiction, yet it is also so much more. Even without cocaine, Itzkoff's father probably would have provided enough material for an intriguing memoir. While addiction does play a central role, the reader - and I think the author - come to realize that the heart of the trouble is the inherently complex and angst-riddled personality of Itzkoff's father. The book delves unsparingly into the damage addi Itzkoff's memoir is funny, honest, and touching. The book is a rather nonjudgmental examination of addiction, yet it is also so much more. Even without cocaine, Itzkoff's father probably would have provided enough material for an intriguing memoir. While addiction does play a central role, the reader - and I think the author - come to realize that the heart of the trouble is the inherently complex and angst-riddled personality of Itzkoff's father. The book delves unsparingly into the damage addiction can do, but the focus of the book seems to be more about the father-son relationship. My only regret is that there really isn't enough about Itzkoff himself in the book. The book seems to be written before the revelation that Itzkoff describes at the books end - that for all his observations of his father, his father has been observing him as well. Itzkoff's own life moments are glossed over, and I think it would have helped to know more about his experiences and perspectives in understanding the greater relationship of father and son. Overall, an interesting and worthwhile read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bookmarks Magazine

    Itzkoff's distress and embarrassment at his father's behavior are tangible in this unflinching portrait of a troubled childhood. While the critics generally enjoyed this new addition to the genre, a few flaws hampered that enjoyment. Some thought that Itzkoff's story, with its rosy, upper-middle-class veneer, lacks the edge of similar memoirs, while others raised objections to Itzkoff's singular focus on his father, whose larger-than-life personality eclipses the other characters -- including It Itzkoff's distress and embarrassment at his father's behavior are tangible in this unflinching portrait of a troubled childhood. While the critics generally enjoyed this new addition to the genre, a few flaws hampered that enjoyment. Some thought that Itzkoff's story, with its rosy, upper-middle-class veneer, lacks the edge of similar memoirs, while others raised objections to Itzkoff's singular focus on his father, whose larger-than-life personality eclipses the other characters -- including Itzkoff himself. He spends a considerable amount of time analyzing his father's actions in an attempt to understand them, and these frequent ruminations, according to Entertainment Weekly, can be intrusive and redundant. When a fellow journalist publishes a book, the critics often take it easy on him or her. That the reviews were not glowing means there's less here than meets the eye. This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    This was an interesting memoir, but less interesting to me than many others. The title oversold the contents. This plays out to be a decent story about a son struggling to live with his difficult, addicted father. But the father is complex--not simply an addict, but sometimes clean for months at a time, and in the end, clean for years. Then the book becomes a story of the son's struggle to forgive his father. He is not so much the son of cocaine as he is the son of a sometimes-addicted father. H This was an interesting memoir, but less interesting to me than many others. The title oversold the contents. This plays out to be a decent story about a son struggling to live with his difficult, addicted father. But the father is complex--not simply an addict, but sometimes clean for months at a time, and in the end, clean for years. Then the book becomes a story of the son's struggle to forgive his father. He is not so much the son of cocaine as he is the son of a sometimes-addicted father. Honestly, I thought the author/son was vindictive and unforgiving several times and seemed unwilling to face that about himself. True, if he lacks maturity or grace it is probably his father's fault. But as an author reflecting on his own behavior, he should have begun to recognize his own missteps.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Squirrel Circus

    I was pleasantly surprised by Dave Itzkoff's memoir of his efforts to reconnect with and better understand his father whose long addiction to cocaine had made him a shadow figure in his son's life. I appreciated that this was not a book charting the actual recovery of his dad or a book that soley focused on the author's childhood and how that childhood suffered under his father's addiction. It was refreshing to see that the book was set more in the not so distant past and included what happens t I was pleasantly surprised by Dave Itzkoff's memoir of his efforts to reconnect with and better understand his father whose long addiction to cocaine had made him a shadow figure in his son's life. I appreciated that this was not a book charting the actual recovery of his dad or a book that soley focused on the author's childhood and how that childhood suffered under his father's addiction. It was refreshing to see that the book was set more in the not so distant past and included what happens to a family dynamic AFTER addiction. Clearly, Itzkoff's father has MANY emotional issues apart from his addiction, and it is touching to see his son try to understand, as an adult, what drives his father. While his father's past sins may not be forgotten, the process of forgiving has clearly begun.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Maybe I'm spoiled by some of the other drug abuse books I have read, but this one was a disappointment. The same kids of dysfunction was there, but the story focused heavily not on the dysfunction, but on the author's relationship with his father, and how he strived to understand his father's addiction. I'm sure that this was a truthful retelling, from his point of view, but I found his reactions to be very childish, and this led to me not feeling much empathy, or sympathy for him. I think that Maybe I'm spoiled by some of the other drug abuse books I have read, but this one was a disappointment. The same kids of dysfunction was there, but the story focused heavily not on the dysfunction, but on the author's relationship with his father, and how he strived to understand his father's addiction. I'm sure that this was a truthful retelling, from his point of view, but I found his reactions to be very childish, and this led to me not feeling much empathy, or sympathy for him. I think that if you are looking for a book on the relationship between a grown man and his addict father, it might be ok. It was a struggle for me to get through.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Unfailingly witty and honest, Dave Itzkoff explores his complicated relationship with his quirky drug addicted father in his memoir, Cocaine's Son. Itzkoff describes his childhood where his parents struggle with their marriage and his father constantly lets him down. He comes of age trying to distance himself from his father as his father comes to rely on him to bail him out of drug fueled situations. The latter part of the book is dedicated to the slow reconstruction of their relationship. Swee Unfailingly witty and honest, Dave Itzkoff explores his complicated relationship with his quirky drug addicted father in his memoir, Cocaine's Son. Itzkoff describes his childhood where his parents struggle with their marriage and his father constantly lets him down. He comes of age trying to distance himself from his father as his father comes to rely on him to bail him out of drug fueled situations. The latter part of the book is dedicated to the slow reconstruction of their relationship. Sweet at times, Itzkoff's story expounds on familial common ground, the power of forgiveness and love.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ba

    Mr Itzkoff details his father's coke addiction, the effects on his own life, and his eventual attempt to come to terms with his relationship with his father by attempting to force his now-clean father to personally document his his life and addiction. It turns out they're both pretty nutty, and yet the book ended up being very funny to me. It looks pretty harsh to me seeing that sentiment typed out, but I'll try to mitigate that by suggesting the author's keen sense of self-deprecation cause tha Mr Itzkoff details his father's coke addiction, the effects on his own life, and his eventual attempt to come to terms with his relationship with his father by attempting to force his now-clean father to personally document his his life and addiction. It turns out they're both pretty nutty, and yet the book ended up being very funny to me. It looks pretty harsh to me seeing that sentiment typed out, but I'll try to mitigate that by suggesting the author's keen sense of self-deprecation cause that reaction rather than any lack of human empathy on my part.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gregg

    I really thought the book was was going to go into addiction as a disease and how it developed in the father. However, it appropriately touched on how a family member's addiction affects everyone's life...not just the addict. I thought it had the right amount of humor...especially towards the end when the son and father were discussing what the father should say at the son's wedding:) I really felt like I got to know the father's personality and demeanor. Not a wonderful book, but not terrible e I really thought the book was was going to go into addiction as a disease and how it developed in the father. However, it appropriately touched on how a family member's addiction affects everyone's life...not just the addict. I thought it had the right amount of humor...especially towards the end when the son and father were discussing what the father should say at the son's wedding:) I really felt like I got to know the father's personality and demeanor. Not a wonderful book, but not terrible either.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This is a story about a guy's very typical relationship with his father. The author seems to think that the relationship is unique and worth writing a book about, but nothing extraordinarily exceptional or unusual occurs in the story. That being said, I really enjoyed reading this book. I was consistently amazed at how much I could relate to the author even though we have extremely different lives. Our upbringings couldn't be more different but I felt like everything in his life was so familiar. This is a story about a guy's very typical relationship with his father. The author seems to think that the relationship is unique and worth writing a book about, but nothing extraordinarily exceptional or unusual occurs in the story. That being said, I really enjoyed reading this book. I was consistently amazed at how much I could relate to the author even though we have extremely different lives. Our upbringings couldn't be more different but I felt like everything in his life was so familiar.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ned Charles

    The personal trials of a very young boy moving through the years onto adulthood while he battles with the effects of his father's cocaine addiction in a culture separate to the normal lifestyles of drug addictions. The writing and the way the story is passed off is very good. A person with analytical skills in such matters would I assume, see depth and issues where I saw just fictional words. Many things appear strange, but it is easy to recognize that we are all different, sometimes very differen The personal trials of a very young boy moving through the years onto adulthood while he battles with the effects of his father's cocaine addiction in a culture separate to the normal lifestyles of drug addictions. The writing and the way the story is passed off is very good. A person with analytical skills in such matters would I assume, see depth and issues where I saw just fictional words. Many things appear strange, but it is easy to recognize that we are all different, sometimes very different.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Crissy

    This book could have been better. The premise is what attracted me, and while reading about the relationship between a drug addicted father and a resentful son, the whole time, i was wondering when I was going to hear the authors real emotional termoil! Over all the tone lacked the rises and falls a reader would expect. It was pretty anticlimactic. The best part of the entire book was one passage in the end. I could very much relate to it's content. You can find it in my quotes. This book could have been better. The premise is what attracted me, and while reading about the relationship between a drug addicted father and a resentful son, the whole time, i was wondering when I was going to hear the authors real emotional termoil! Over all the tone lacked the rises and falls a reader would expect. It was pretty anticlimactic. The best part of the entire book was one passage in the end. I could very much relate to it's content. You can find it in my quotes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Cocaine’s Son is the story of David Itzkoff's childhood and his very damaged relationship with his cocaine addicted father and his journey to establish a true relationship with his father post drugs. This is Itzkoff's first book and although it is very well written it was lacking in emotions. If you are looking for a book that tackles this subject, I highly suggest Beautiful Boy written by David Sheff. Cocaine’s Son is the story of David Itzkoff's childhood and his very damaged relationship with his cocaine addicted father and his journey to establish a true relationship with his father post drugs. This is Itzkoff's first book and although it is very well written it was lacking in emotions. If you are looking for a book that tackles this subject, I highly suggest Beautiful Boy written by David Sheff.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I wanted so badly to like this. Someone that I respect said it was her favourite book so I was sure it would move me too. No such thing. I found the author unlikeable and whiny. He cries a lot. The family is messy and sort of charming so...that's kind of nice. There wasn't enough story for me but maybe that has something to do with the fact that I finished "The Night of the Gun" two days before. Actually, just read that one instead. I wanted so badly to like this. Someone that I respect said it was her favourite book so I was sure it would move me too. No such thing. I found the author unlikeable and whiny. He cries a lot. The family is messy and sort of charming so...that's kind of nice. There wasn't enough story for me but maybe that has something to do with the fact that I finished "The Night of the Gun" two days before. Actually, just read that one instead.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Glenda

    This was totally not what I expected. If you are looking for a memoir about addiction this was more about a son remembering his dads addiction to cocaine but it was quite boring. I always feel bad when I give a review like this on a memoir because I realize this is someone's real life but we don't all write a book about our life either, because not all of our lives make an exciting story. I did find his writing was good but it was just slow. This was totally not what I expected. If you are looking for a memoir about addiction this was more about a son remembering his dads addiction to cocaine but it was quite boring. I always feel bad when I give a review like this on a memoir because I realize this is someone's real life but we don't all write a book about our life either, because not all of our lives make an exciting story. I did find his writing was good but it was just slow.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brandi

    I am not usually one to quit on books mid-read, but, honestly, I couldn't make it through this one. It did not hold interest and was extremely one-sided. Perhaps I missed an amazing ending, but, in my opinion, it wasn't worth the annoyance of self righteousness and poor writing to get there. I hope the man and his father eventually found peace with each other, but, more importantly, with themselves. I am not usually one to quit on books mid-read, but, honestly, I couldn't make it through this one. It did not hold interest and was extremely one-sided. Perhaps I missed an amazing ending, but, in my opinion, it wasn't worth the annoyance of self righteousness and poor writing to get there. I hope the man and his father eventually found peace with each other, but, more importantly, with themselves.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I feel bad for Dave, and yet, was there just too much whining? Does he deserve to be upset because of what he's been through? Did he really learn all the lessons, having made many of the same mistakes? It engrossed me from the beginning, though: the opening bars were enough to let you know that bad, bad things were afoot and generate a cringe. You know you have to do it, though. Some credit is due the author. I don't think I would have, or could have, forgiven the ills done to him. I feel bad for Dave, and yet, was there just too much whining? Does he deserve to be upset because of what he's been through? Did he really learn all the lessons, having made many of the same mistakes? It engrossed me from the beginning, though: the opening bars were enough to let you know that bad, bad things were afoot and generate a cringe. You know you have to do it, though. Some credit is due the author. I don't think I would have, or could have, forgiven the ills done to him.

  30. 5 out of 5

    eb

    A funny, observant, and unsentimental memoir by the son of a quirky, sweet cocaine addict. The structure sags in the middle, but the opening chapters are great, and the chronicle of Itzkoff's wedding feels completely fresh and very loving, without ever getting cheesy. It's fascinating to see how Itzkoff's dad--and his relationships, and his relationship with drugs--changes over time. A funny, observant, and unsentimental memoir by the son of a quirky, sweet cocaine addict. The structure sags in the middle, but the opening chapters are great, and the chronicle of Itzkoff's wedding feels completely fresh and very loving, without ever getting cheesy. It's fascinating to see how Itzkoff's dad--and his relationships, and his relationship with drugs--changes over time.

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