Cocaine's Son: A Memoir
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
was sitting right where I had left him, no more clothed than the last time I saw him. “Come on,” I whined. “I’ve got to get to the party.” I stood over him while he applied his pants to his legs, like he was spreading a resistant lump of peanut butter over an endless terrain of bread. He put his arms through his shirtsleeves, slipped a single button through whichever buttonhole he could find, and called it done. He started fumbling around for his car keys. “Are they in your pants?” I asked
nothing more memorable or lasting than tuna fish, but it was he who wrote the order to have my father committed, which my mother signed and my grandfather dispiritedly seconded. On a night when my sister and I had been given over to our grandmother for safekeeping, my father’s visions of a traumatic, violent abduction were realized when the police came banging at his apartment door, stripped him naked and strapped him into a straitjacket, and hijacked him to Bellevue Hospital. He spent the next
had not been properly internalized and a first treacherous step on the road to relapsing. But were we abiding by the No War Stories rule? So far, my father seemed to believe that he was. What he had told me was neither a plea for forgiveness nor a puffing up of his chest; he wasn’t demeaning or glorifying his drug habit, just reciting things that had happened to him. But I could sense that he was approaching his limit: he had given me all that he could, or all that he thought he was capable of,
James Bond villain. He was looking over some skins at one of the inspection tables in the back of the auction house when he saw my father coming; he greeted him by asking, “Are you still manipulating the markets, Gerry?” This initiated a long lecture from my father about the best point in a fiscal cycle to buy fur (“when nobody else wants it”), and why one should never invest in the market with borrowed money, and a reiteration of his philosophy that he would never leave the fur business alive.
deference to an old man who liked to talk, they let him exhaust his supply of stories before he determined it was time to move along (with some gentle prodding from his chaperone for the day, who was feeling guilty for having inflicted him upon these unsuspecting if hospitable folk). Somehow he even bamboozled them into giving him their email addresses, a move they would soon learn to regret. “I’m going to delude you—not delude you, deluge you, with email,” he said, and I have no doubt he made