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About the book
  • Published: 8 June 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446483633
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man

A Memoir

A masterful account of a crack-addict's freefall

This is the story of one of the most gifted, charismatic and successful young literary agents in New York and his catastrophic fall into full-blown crack addiction: a collapse that would cost him his business, his home, many of his friends and - very nearly - his life. An utterly compulsive narrative of extraordinary frankness, we are led through the grimiest back-rooms of Manhattan's underbelly, through scenes of blank-eyed sex and squalor, into the febrile paranoia of a mind gone out of control. The story is intercut with terrifying flashbacks to his childhood, where a secret physical condition triggers shame, psychological abuse, and the beginnings of his hidden life and addictive personality.

This is not a book about a literary agent, or publishing, or New York - nor is it a book about recovery and redemption - it is a completely compelling, brilliantly written account of how a dynamic young middle-class professional can find himself finally exposed as a helpless addict, de-railed and alone, living for months on a steady diet of crack cocaine and vodka. Written with great literary skill and originality, this is a memoir of disarming honesty and huge emotional power, but it is also, at its heart, a manifest of pure terror.

  • Pub date: 8 June 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446483633
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

About the Author

Bill Clegg

Bill Clegg is a literary agent in New York and the author of the bestselling memoirs Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days. He has written for the New York Times, Esquire, New York magazine, the Guardian and Harper’s Bazaar.

Also by Bill Clegg

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Praise for Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man

“It's a remarkable achievement when a writer can evoke the most desperate episodes of addiction with the unflinching honesty required to make such a memoir worth reading, yet somehow manage to completely transcend sleaze, sordidness and vapid self-justification. Bill Clegg's story of a man - largely locked in hotel rooms, engaged in a desperate, heart-wrenching battle with himself - is destined to become a cult classic of writing on drug addiction. ”

Irvine Welsh

“Bill Clegg's Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man stands up to Frederick Exley's great memoir of alcoholism, A Fan's Notes. It is perhaps even higher praise to think of Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man as Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye on crack. But really, finally, forget the comparisons. Read the book.”

Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours

“A Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is an instant classic. Anybody who knows anything about addiction will feel morally altered by this book. To an extraordinary degree, it has both beauty and truth. It goes beyond its own revelations to become a book for everybody, a work of art. I suppose we live for the magic of these things.”

Andrew O'Hagan

“Enthralling. Filled with scenes that will stay with you long after the last page, it's a dark and shadowy look into a world most people never escape from”

Rosie Mullender, Cosmopolitan

“Beautifully measured and adroitly paced ... mixing a matter-of-fact eye for detail with just enough emotion to unsettle and engross ... Addictive and masterful”

Julian Hall, The Independent

“A compelling read”

Emma Sleight, Time Out

“Addictive, and strangely beautiful”

Maggie Fergusson, Intelligent Life

“A gripping, graphic memoir that pounds relentlessly to a climax.”

Tim Teeman, The Times

“Has the power and precision of the best contemporary fiction. It does what the best writing always does, which is to make Clegg's experience part of yours.”

Andrew O'Hagan, Psychologies

“Riveting reading... We salute this book”

Dazed & Confused

“Dark, engrossing...proves that addiction stories do not have to be gratuitous and unashamedly confessional”

Fiona Atherton, Scotsman

“A very, very good book...told in perfect, beautifully clear, Bret Easton Ellis-type prose”

William Leith, Literary Review

“A beautifully written and elegantly frank memoir... A lyrical, funny and shattering narration of a long, hard path.”

AL Kennedy, Guardian Summer Reading


Rose Tremain, Guardian Summer Reading

“A short book that pulls you in and spits you back out... He can certainly write”

Dwight Garner, Scotland on Sunday

“Stylised, artful memoir”

Suzi Feay, Financial Times

“Loved A Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man”

William Leith, Spectator, Christmas round up

“It's an honest and wonderfully crafted book by a man as intoxicated by language as he was by crack.”

AL Kennedy, Guardian, Christmas round up

“Mesmerising: as well as being beautifully written, it illuminated addiction in a frank and useful fashion, and tied childhood experience into adult problems insightfully.”

Hannah McGill, Sunday Herald, Christmas round up

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