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With his nickname, Dirty Jersey, tattooed on the inside of his left forearm, James Salant wanted everyone to know he was a tough guy. At the age of eighteen, after one too many run-ins with the cops for drug possession, he left his upper-middle-class home in Princeton, New Jersey, for a stint at a rehab facility in Riverside, California. Instead of getting clean, he spent With his nickname, Dirty Jersey, tattooed on the inside of his left forearm, James Salant wanted everyone to know he was a tough guy. At the age of eighteen, after one too many run-ins with the cops for drug possession, he left his upper-middle-class home in Princeton, New Jersey, for a stint at a rehab facility in Riverside, California. Instead of getting clean, he spent his year there shooting crystal meth and living as a petty criminal among not-so-petty ones until a near psychotic episode (among other things) convinced him to clean up. In stark prose infused with heartbreaking insight, wicked humor, and complete veracity, Salant provides graphic descriptions of life on crystal meth -- the incredible sex drive, the paranoia, the cravings. He details the slang, the scams, and the psychoses, and weaves them into a narrative that is breathtakingly honest and authentic. Salant grapples with his attraction to the thuggish life, eschewing easy answers -- his parents, both therapists, were loving and supportive, and his family's subtle dysfunctions typical of almost any American family. Exploring the allure and effects of the least understood drug of our time, "Leaving Dirty Jersey" is that rarity among memoirs -- a compulsively readable, superbly told story that is shocking precisely because it could happen to almost anyone.


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With his nickname, Dirty Jersey, tattooed on the inside of his left forearm, James Salant wanted everyone to know he was a tough guy. At the age of eighteen, after one too many run-ins with the cops for drug possession, he left his upper-middle-class home in Princeton, New Jersey, for a stint at a rehab facility in Riverside, California. Instead of getting clean, he spent With his nickname, Dirty Jersey, tattooed on the inside of his left forearm, James Salant wanted everyone to know he was a tough guy. At the age of eighteen, after one too many run-ins with the cops for drug possession, he left his upper-middle-class home in Princeton, New Jersey, for a stint at a rehab facility in Riverside, California. Instead of getting clean, he spent his year there shooting crystal meth and living as a petty criminal among not-so-petty ones until a near psychotic episode (among other things) convinced him to clean up. In stark prose infused with heartbreaking insight, wicked humor, and complete veracity, Salant provides graphic descriptions of life on crystal meth -- the incredible sex drive, the paranoia, the cravings. He details the slang, the scams, and the psychoses, and weaves them into a narrative that is breathtakingly honest and authentic. Salant grapples with his attraction to the thuggish life, eschewing easy answers -- his parents, both therapists, were loving and supportive, and his family's subtle dysfunctions typical of almost any American family. Exploring the allure and effects of the least understood drug of our time, "Leaving Dirty Jersey" is that rarity among memoirs -- a compulsively readable, superbly told story that is shocking precisely because it could happen to almost anyone.

30 review for Leaving Dirty Jersey: A Crystal Meth Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    As bad as you can't believe it is. How this got published is beyond me. Take out the F-bombs and you have very little to read. Most of that is repetitive. Threaten your children with this book. "If you do meth you'll write as badly as this guy!"

  2. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    What I learned from this book is that there are three major compulsive behaviors exhibited by meth addicts: tweaking, rooting and sketching. I also learned that, pathos aside, meth can be as funny as crack. Lastly, I learned that if you are a suburban kid obsessed with recreating yourself a la the thug life and become a hollow and disgusting drug addict, it helps to have two rich parents back in New Jersey willing to cut any manner of check to send you to rehab. This way, you can dry out, get a What I learned from this book is that there are three major compulsive behaviors exhibited by meth addicts: tweaking, rooting and sketching. I also learned that, pathos aside, meth can be as funny as crack. Lastly, I learned that if you are a suburban kid obsessed with recreating yourself a la the thug life and become a hollow and disgusting drug addict, it helps to have two rich parents back in New Jersey willing to cut any manner of check to send you to rehab. This way, you can dry out, get a nice job and eventually write a mono-dimensional account of your life on the hard meth-strewn streets of California that will get written up, for no apparent or good reason, in the New York Times. That's what Leaving Dirty Jersey taught me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patrick O'Neil

    I might be being a bit picky here. Being a dope-fiend memoir elitist and all. Yet, one would think if an author was writing their "tell-all-drug-addict-memoir," they'd at the very least have been a dope fiend longer than it took to get the book published. James Salant ran away from rehab and shot speed for a year, then wrote a book about it. Ok, sure, shooting speed sucks. Hanging out with speed freaks and ex-cons sucks. Endlessly masturbating to internet porn really has to suck. Even just the t I might be being a bit picky here. Being a dope-fiend memoir elitist and all. Yet, one would think if an author was writing their "tell-all-drug-addict-memoir," they'd at the very least have been a dope fiend longer than it took to get the book published. James Salant ran away from rehab and shot speed for a year, then wrote a book about it. Ok, sure, shooting speed sucks. Hanging out with speed freaks and ex-cons sucks. Endlessly masturbating to internet porn really has to suck. Even just the thought of actually living in a trailer park in some podunk town in SoCal sucks. But doing it for just a year justifies writing a memoir? Don't get me wrong, the misery of addiction shouldn't be measured by time or even quality. It's no fun no matter how you look at it. But the majority of the first hundred pages of Leaving Dirty Jersey is nothing but Salant retelling how many times he shot-up, with who, and how tweaked he got. I realize there's a good deal of repetition to a meth-head's existence, but man, oh man, enough is enough. To be absolutely honest I couldn't finish the book. I tired, god knows I tried. But Salant's voice sounded so sophomoric as to be unreliable that I was unmoved and didn't really care what the hell happened to him as it appeared that nothing but the same old tedious boredom of continuous meth use was on the menu. I'm surprised an editor didn't address this issues, but then again some people are interested in the superficial aspects of addiction - as just the lure of drug use seems justified to make for good reading. Yet the blurb on the back of the paperback compares it to Jim Carroll's Basketball Diaries??!! Which is totally absurd...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I really really dug this book. Such a shameless warts and all account of meth addiction. It's a subject that seems over-shadowed by the hipness of heroin memiors, but meth heads make for much better reading, and it's a common story that's yet to be told so well. The most impressive thing about Leaving Dirty Jersey is its honesty. Unlike a certain un-named "Memior" I'm currently reading,(James Frey), which truly does whiff a little of bullshit. Anyways... I dig the way Salant portrays the paranoia I really really dug this book. Such a shameless warts and all account of meth addiction. It's a subject that seems over-shadowed by the hipness of heroin memiors, but meth heads make for much better reading, and it's a common story that's yet to be told so well. The most impressive thing about Leaving Dirty Jersey is its honesty. Unlike a certain un-named "Memior" I'm currently reading,(James Frey), which truly does whiff a little of bullshit. Anyways... I dig the way Salant portrays the paranoia in conversations, it's like a reading between the bullshit writing approach, where you can see right through the characters different fronts, but they still seem mostly likeable and real. He deliberately portrays himself in the same light, which I think is what makes the book so believable. The actual events and goings-on seem dramatic, but not dramatised. They are written with a tempo and urgency that gives an understanding of the state of mind of meth addicts. Nothing is glorified, nor looked down on. His 'blame ends in me' mentality gives readers a realistic account of a brief, but intense period of modern day drug addict life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brett Starr

    Bored, tired of reading books with facts and statistics? Yes, so was I. This book is a great, fun read. The main character Jim (the author James Salant) keeps you on the edge of your seat. James doesnt waste your time trying to give you statistics on drugs, drug use or even how meth is produced. This is his story of addiction, from beginning to end. Its not a pretty journey through the countryside, but rather a long walk down a dirty, dangerous back alley. Meth use is a disgusting, but growing p Bored, tired of reading books with facts and statistics? Yes, so was I. This book is a great, fun read. The main character Jim (the author James Salant) keeps you on the edge of your seat. James doesnt waste your time trying to give you statistics on drugs, drug use or even how meth is produced. This is his story of addiction, from beginning to end. Its not a pretty journey through the countryside, but rather a long walk down a dirty, dangerous back alley. Meth use is a disgusting, but growing problem in the U.S. This book gives you one mans glimpse of what it was like being hooked on it!!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Imogen

    I'm not gonna lie, I mostly read this because I like New Jersey (ask me about my tattoo!). It's about a tough guy who moves from New Jersey to California to be tough, which is m y life story too, but ultimately it's the story of a rich kid with rich parents who decides to be a badass on his parents' money, talking about how smart he was for scamming his parents' money, telling stories about how Oh man I w as so fucked up. I wanted more acknowledgment of the privilege he had, and instead I got a I'm not gonna lie, I mostly read this because I like New Jersey (ask me about my tattoo!). It's about a tough guy who moves from New Jersey to California to be tough, which is m y life story too, but ultimately it's the story of a rich kid with rich parents who decides to be a badass on his parents' money, talking about how smart he was for scamming his parents' money, telling stories about how Oh man I w as so fucked up. I wanted more acknowledgment of the privilege he had, and instead I got a bunch of, y'know, gritty stories about the harsh seedy realities of the drug world. Whatever. There's also, at the end, him being like, "So all these great things happened and helped me turn my life around because I'm lucky," when I wanted him to be like "because I'm white, come from money, and ultimately the stakes for the shit I was pulling were never really that high; I could always just go home." Which is annoying. And also in the end when he's like, 'I figured out that being tough just isn't cool,' I'm like, Well, then why are you writing a book about how tough you are/were? I think the answer might be that his paradigm is, exploit what privilege you've got, which feels gross to me. Still, I read it, it was readable, he writes well enough- I didn't throw it across the room. I'm just, like, whatever. I'm not sure *why* I read the whole thing except that I used to take drugs, too, and I like to remember taking drugs 'cause it was a pretty good time in my life, too. Because I'm a hypocrite, or something. I don't know. I used to be able to read drug memoirs with so much more credulity, less criticism! But now I'm tired and old.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brigette

    Humm? I am not really sure how I feel about this book. I don't want to give it a bad review because it was ok, I just felt that some of it may have been fabricated. How could a guy so strung out on meth and heroin remember such definite details of what happened to him, where it happened, and when it all happened? I just don't know. It was really hard to feel bad for him "James", the author and subject of this memoir. I didn't feel sorry for him, I couldn't understand what he was going through, w Humm? I am not really sure how I feel about this book. I don't want to give it a bad review because it was ok, I just felt that some of it may have been fabricated. How could a guy so strung out on meth and heroin remember such definite details of what happened to him, where it happened, and when it all happened? I just don't know. It was really hard to feel bad for him "James", the author and subject of this memoir. I didn't feel sorry for him, I couldn't understand what he was going through, why he was going through it and I couldn't understand his parents babying him for years! I got this book second hand at a thrift store. I wanted to hear what he had to say about the mean streets of Riverside, as I live close by there. I don't think I learned anything new from reading this. I got no insight into the mind of addiction, which I was looking for. I already know that drugs are bad. 3 Stars

  8. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What the hell is a "String T-Shirt" and why is everyone in Riverside wearing one? All I can picture is those ugly 80's muscle T's. Or a net tank top, which is equally silly, and I doubt worn by many LA junkies in the 2000's. Anyhoo.... I agree with other's reviews that this book seemed more like a long brag session than any insight into addiction. I still don't know what compelled him to fall so far, and it sounds like his finally going straight was mostly accidental. I felt the youth of the aut What the hell is a "String T-Shirt" and why is everyone in Riverside wearing one? All I can picture is those ugly 80's muscle T's. Or a net tank top, which is equally silly, and I doubt worn by many LA junkies in the 2000's. Anyhoo.... I agree with other's reviews that this book seemed more like a long brag session than any insight into addiction. I still don't know what compelled him to fall so far, and it sounds like his finally going straight was mostly accidental. I felt the youth of the author was obvious; the book is completely lacking in wisdom. The value of this book: I have encountered junkies and cranksters. I've read the horrible poetry, I've had an uncle who heard voices, had a porn addiction, and ended up shooting himself in the head. Even though I wanted to know more about what drove the addiction, what the drug actually feels like; what it provides for the addict, at least the scenes described were authentic, and I can understand my friend's/uncle's compulsions a bit more. Finally, I found this book in the Young Adult section of the library, and have to say I'm going to be careful at what age I let my girls begin to peruse the Young Adult books; come on - shooting up in his dick? Anal sex with a crack whore? Honestly, if my daughters want to read about addiction, I'd rather they read A Million Little Pieces, even if they need to read it as a novel rather than a memoir. That book is a much better written portrait of addiction/recovery, but it's in the Adult section. I wonder what's the difference? The cynic in me thinks the publisher knows the book is lacking compared to other books in the genre, so is trying to market it as a young adult book so that it won't have to compete with those better books. But this would mean we are introducing our younger readers to crap! Or, is the Young Adult section actually geared to 17-25 year olds? I remember looking for books there when I was 10.... Is 10 too young to read the ugliness in this book?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    If you look at James Salant's author photo on the back of this book, you see a baby-faced kid, admittedly very cute, trying to look tough. Leaving Dirty Jersey is 23-year-old Salant's story of his crippling drug addiction, and his author photo is misleading. All his life, he wanted to be tough and now, with this book, all he wants to do is come clean, in more ways than one. The book is gritty and real, allowing people like me who think "getting fucked up" is drinking a few too many cranberry and If you look at James Salant's author photo on the back of this book, you see a baby-faced kid, admittedly very cute, trying to look tough. Leaving Dirty Jersey is 23-year-old Salant's story of his crippling drug addiction, and his author photo is misleading. All his life, he wanted to be tough and now, with this book, all he wants to do is come clean, in more ways than one. The book is gritty and real, allowing people like me who think "getting fucked up" is drinking a few too many cranberry and vodkas a look at the other side. In his writing, Salant is both self-conscious and courageous, as there are things in this book that you'd never want to tell anyone, let alone everyone. With tales of banging bitches in dirty hotel rooms, shooting up in trailer park bathrooms, and desperately masturbating to laptop porn, Leaving Dirty Jersey is not for the faint of heart.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    Uninteresting people doing uninteresting things with no clear voice, creativity or point. People float in and out of the story with almost no characterization outside of their direct interations with the main character, with slight exceptions in the author's brother Jon and his "best friend" Wendy. Gross overuse of the word "fuck" and a handful of pandering to "west coast" audiences, though that could be considered a clever nod to the content. Honestly, just a dull read with passable writing and Uninteresting people doing uninteresting things with no clear voice, creativity or point. People float in and out of the story with almost no characterization outside of their direct interations with the main character, with slight exceptions in the author's brother Jon and his "best friend" Wendy. Gross overuse of the word "fuck" and a handful of pandering to "west coast" audiences, though that could be considered a clever nod to the content. Honestly, just a dull read with passable writing and storytelling skills, but it's mostly uninteresting dialogue and uninteresting non-plot.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennww2ns

    Want raw honesty? Try A Piece of Cake. Want addiction and pain? Try Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines. Want recovery and redemption? Try America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life. Basically, read any book besides this. Although, near the end, Salant realizes that being the tough guy was not cool, he tells his story without that conviction. He comes across as pretentious and naive and seems to brush it all off as a big mistake or a "phase" that he went through. Maybe writing his story o Want raw honesty? Try A Piece of Cake. Want addiction and pain? Try Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines. Want recovery and redemption? Try America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life. Basically, read any book besides this. Although, near the end, Salant realizes that being the tough guy was not cool, he tells his story without that conviction. He comes across as pretentious and naive and seems to brush it all off as a big mistake or a "phase" that he went through. Maybe writing his story out was cathartic but it never should have been published. He should have maybe spent some more time thinking about how shit his life would have been if he didn't get lucky so many times or if Mommy & Daddy weren't there to bail him out.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    One of the best books on drug use that I have ever read. My knowledge of the meth world in California matches what was written in this book. The shady or the violent people that are always around, the effects of the drug (such as when a person goes 'rooting'), the slang, what tweekers do when they are paranoid. Everything written is exactly as I remember the meth world to be. Ignore the naysayers this is a must-read if you want a real description of what the meth world is like (at least in Cali) One of the best books on drug use that I have ever read. My knowledge of the meth world in California matches what was written in this book. The shady or the violent people that are always around, the effects of the drug (such as when a person goes 'rooting'), the slang, what tweekers do when they are paranoid. Everything written is exactly as I remember the meth world to be. Ignore the naysayers this is a must-read if you want a real description of what the meth world is like (at least in Cali).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Leeann

    Privileged upper-middle class white kid gets into trouble selling drugs. His enabling parents continually bail him out and support his druggie lifestyle. His adventures are not nearly as entertaining or "tough" as he believes. Even when hitting "rock bottom", he appears to lack self-awareness and insight. The book does not demonstrate any true emotional growth and instead, bores the reader with examples of how junkies lie to each other constantly. Repetitious and pointless.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeannie

    I enjoyed reading this book but it was pretty depressing. some parts of the book actually made me sick to my stomach. gritty and hard-hitting yet he almost seemed to be bragging about his horrible life while he was a junkie. I'm not sure he will stay clean, he still seems to be immortalizing this lifestyle. a good read non-the-less.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

    Being a recovered addict myself, I've read a lot of drug and alcohol memoirs and I don't give many 5 stars. But, this kid, James Salant, is so honestly raw and open. Not what I would call a "Motivational" book about getting clean, but a word-for-word account of a year in the life only another addict could understand.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Boring and Repetitive

  17. 4 out of 5

    Domante

    Very addicting. This was the first book that got me back into reading and I am so glad I came across it!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emma Voss

    Update #1 In my book so far Jimmy, the main character, had gotten in trouble in New Jersey for being high and running around the city wrecklessly. His parents decided to send him to California for rehab and he went to a place called GSL. After he got out of there, he started living with a friend he had made in GSL whose name was Luke in a sober-living home. They got kicked out of there because they were getting high. Luke went to live with his girlfriend and daughter while Jimmy started living w Update #1 In my book so far Jimmy, the main character, had gotten in trouble in New Jersey for being high and running around the city wrecklessly. His parents decided to send him to California for rehab and he went to a place called GSL. After he got out of there, he started living with a friend he had made in GSL whose name was Luke in a sober-living home. They got kicked out of there because they were getting high. Luke went to live with his girlfriend and daughter while Jimmy started living with his friend Wendy who he also met in GSL. Wendy went back to jail and ever since then, Jimmy has been jumping around motels and selling crystal meth to anyone and everyone he meets. My opinion of the book so far is that it is really good. I have learned a lot about the realistic ways that people live in California. People who live on drugs have really hard lives and I have a new understanding of how hard it is for them to quit what they are doing. I really look forward to finishing the book and finding out how he overcomes the difficulties he went through. Update #2 In my book, Jimmy just recently got a partner that goes around with him. Since he is such a small guy, his partner, Manny, protects him and helps him sell drugs to new people. They went to a city called Norco just north of Riverside to buy drugs from a guy named Mithch, who Jimmy had just met. When they got there, Mitch asked Jimmy for $200 for the drugs and asked him to follow him to where he could give him the drugs away from his dad. They tried to follow him but they sped off without giving him the drugs. They started planning a shooting where they would drive by his house and shoot his windows out, possibley killing someone in the house. They ended up calling his dad and getting the money back from him. Jimmy's parents also came to visit him and his brother, who also is addicted to drugs. They took them shopping and out to eat. They even fixed Jimmy's car. In the end, Jimmy promised his parents he would go back to GSL so he could get clean again before his court date back in New Jersey. He said he would go back within the first week of June. This book is starting to get a little scary for me and it's getting hard for me to read. At first, I sympathy for the characters in the book but now, I just can't imagine being around anyone who does crystal meth on a regular basis. I still think they have hard lives and I'm glad people are there to help them though. Since this story is a true story, it seems a little more real to me and I was relieved when Jimmy's parents came to visit him. I can't wait for him to go back to GSL to get clean again. Update #3 Jimmy has not gone back to GSL yet and I just finished the second to last chapter. Him and his partner, Manny, got into an argument after Manny stole Jimmy's car and didn't return with it until a few days afterwards. They are no longer partners. After Jimmy started spending a couple weeks at his friend Chick's house, he got a new partner name Cliff. Cliff is not his partner for protection though. He just helps Jimmy sell and buy drugs. Cliff convinced Jimmy to sell his car for drugs because Cliff could drive him around anyways. Cliff abandoned Jimmy at a friends house and Jimmy got so high he over dosed. He recovered and walked around town for 3 days on no sleep. Finally, after suffering from withdrawal, he found enough money on the streets to call his parents on a pay phone and tell them he was ready to go back to GSL. This book really started to scare me when he was walking around town for three days with no food, money, or sleep. He had a cell phone at first but he got into two fights with people. In the first fight, the people took his wallet and cell phone. In the second fight, he got beat up pretty bad and had bruises all over his face. I can just picture a grungy city and a teenager getting beat up in an alley. I can't wait to read the last chapter to make sure he gets clean and comes home to New Jersey safely. Update #4 After all he went through, Jimmy ended up back in New Jersey with few restrictions, his own apartment, and a girlfriend. I think the authors purpose in writing this novel was to teach people about drugs and how much they can affect your life. I think he also wanted to show that even if you are addicted to drugs, it's possible to turn your life around. I know this because through the whole book Jimmy was depressed and felt like he would never recover, but in the end he recovered and has been clean since 2003. The theme of this book it to stay away from drugs. I know this because he went so into depth about the affects it had on his life.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eva Leger

    This is more of a 2.5 for me. If someone asked me for a recommendation for a book of this nature I'd definitely steer them toward Nic Sheff's Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines and to a lesser extent, We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction. Salant is just missing some of that crucial 'flow' to his writing. A friend of mine said this and I agree wholeheartedly - Salant seems to be bragging in parts about his past and it's common sense that this isn't conducive to staying clean. I wouldn't be s This is more of a 2.5 for me. If someone asked me for a recommendation for a book of this nature I'd definitely steer them toward Nic Sheff's Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines and to a lesser extent, We All Fall Down: Living with Addiction. Salant is just missing some of that crucial 'flow' to his writing. A friend of mine said this and I agree wholeheartedly - Salant seems to be bragging in parts about his past and it's common sense that this isn't conducive to staying clean. I wouldn't be surprised to find he's no longer clean although I sincerely hope I'm wrong and I wish him the best of luck in that and everything else he does. I also am wondering how many, if any, parts were "changed". In my experience and the experiences of those I was close to who I was able to watch, one year alone using hard drugs isn't much. I suppose it may seem like it would be to someone who has never used but some of the parts Salant wrote about seemed like they were coming from a person using for a much longer period of time. And then other parts seemed missing. That's the impression I got anyway. I'll say this - Salant's parents, however unwittingly, played a huge You'd have to be blind, deaf and dumb to think they were right to send him money. They allowed him to continue on his path for a very, very long time. Most parents in this situation do this for awhile either because of ignorance or disbelief, there are many reasons. But these parents just kept sending him more and more money even when he gave the flimsiest of excuses. I can't help but feel his upbringing may have had something to do with his life choices. (Just for the record I'm not one of those people who this all drug users had a bad childhood. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that some people use drugs for no reason at all.) In this circumstance, from what I read, I do think the parenting - or lack of - had a lot to do with this. I can't imagine allowing my daughter to run around yelling the word 'fuck'. She'd do it once and never again, believe that. There was once instance where James and his brother (who had problems in his own right and probably for the very same reasons) were driving in the car with their mother. His brother started demanding things of his mother and instead of correctly (IMO) parenting she let it build and build and build until eventually she screamed, "I'll drive this car right into a fucking telephone pole!" She did this while driving off of the road they were on and stepping on the gas. If this is true and not a figment of Salant's imagination it's horrific. No matter that nothing "happened". No child should have to hear their mother speak like that or threaten something like that. It's horrible. And it's one more nail in the coffin of my belief that people should need a frigging license to have children. But all in all it's not a bad book. It may dredge up some bad memories for ex-addicts because Salant isn't shy in explaining different things. If you think reading about booting up, cooking up, and the rest would bother you I'd skip it. Better safe than sorry. If you're just interested in an addicts explanation of things... well I don't know. Try it I guess. I doubt you'll walk away with much but you can always read Tweak then.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tori

    Okay, this is a great memoir. Drug memoirs are my favorite kind of book, so of course it's going to get 5 stars and of course it's going to get my classic lines such as "i love how it was written", "it was so crazy but so good", and "this book made me feel all sorts of emotions". (Potential warning for spoilers but I'm not marking it because I'm too lazy to write the code in and also I don't think it's enough spoilers to actually be called spoilers.) But it's also gonna differ a bit. This kid went Okay, this is a great memoir. Drug memoirs are my favorite kind of book, so of course it's going to get 5 stars and of course it's going to get my classic lines such as "i love how it was written", "it was so crazy but so good", and "this book made me feel all sorts of emotions". (Potential warning for spoilers but I'm not marking it because I'm too lazy to write the code in and also I don't think it's enough spoilers to actually be called spoilers.) But it's also gonna differ a bit. This kid went through so much so young and in such a short period of time, god damn. It's also really cool that the dude is fairly local (21 pilots reference not intended), and talks a lot about an area where a lot of my family lives (New Jersey, even though the main part of the story takes place in California). I felt really heartbroken for Salant in especially Part 3 of the book. It was also fairly disturbing in parts, especially keeping in mind he was barely an adult at the time, and that was another part of what made the book so sad at times. I really really loved the one quote though where he says at the end (view spoiler)[ "I didn't decide to turn my life around. I just stopped trying so hard to ruin it." (hide spoiler)] Like that may actually be my favorite quote of the book, for some reason. I also always think the acknowledgments and epilogues in memoirs are really cute and they always make me happy. Also Wendy was a character I ended up really liking because of (view spoiler)[ how she really only wanted the best for him and always encouraged him to get clean, but in a way that wasn't really annoying or hypocritical like a lot of those kinds of people usually are, which I thought was really nice. (hide spoiler)] I liked this book so much and wanted to finish it MONTHS ago, but college and work got in the way and I wasn't able to really read it for a few months, which made me really sad. This book is really good, and my mom recently got into drug memoirs as well, so I'm really excited to share this one with her.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dane Cobain

    If you like ‘drug books’ then you’ll like this book – essentially, it’s the memoir of a guy called James Salant, a former meth addict. Salant has a smooth way of writing which brings his stories and the characters that he met along the way to life, and it’s notable for its unflinching honesty. The author managed to get cleaned up, and so he writes about it with a ruthless self-reflection which highlights his plight and which makes you wonder what you might have done if you were in a similar posi If you like ‘drug books’ then you’ll like this book – essentially, it’s the memoir of a guy called James Salant, a former meth addict. Salant has a smooth way of writing which brings his stories and the characters that he met along the way to life, and it’s notable for its unflinching honesty. The author managed to get cleaned up, and so he writes about it with a ruthless self-reflection which highlights his plight and which makes you wonder what you might have done if you were in a similar position. Salant was just a regular middle-class teenager when he got busted for possession and sent to California for a rehab programme. He quickly disappeared, and that’s how he finds himself descending into the murky underworld of the Californian meth scene. But whilst the author might have been young, he still knew what he was doing – luckily, he shows some remorse and you find yourself appreciating the way that he opens himself up to share things with his readers. Ultimately, meth causes a lot of damage, and this isn’t the sort of book that glorifies it – it just portrays it, its usage and its users in an unflinchingly honest light. It certainly makes for interesting reading, but it’s also heartbreaking in a lot of ways – because it’s non-fictional, you know that all of the things that Salant is talking about are true, and that they actually happened. That’s a little scary. Overall, I’d totally recommend this book, especially if you’re interested in drugs or if you’re a keen reader of non-fiction. I always love it when I find a new memoir that’s well written and easy to get into – too many memoirs are written by celebrities, and whilst they do often have stories to tell, they’re not usually as ‘real’ as this. Great work by James Salant – he’s got a way with words, and that helps to make it stand out.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Evalynn

    This is the kind of story I love. It's all addiction horror and none of the preachy sober living stuff. Some people need a reminder why they shouldn't do hard drugs, and books like these satisfy that!

  23. 5 out of 5

    justablondemoment

    1st let me start off by saying although I gave this book 4 stars it is for the "story" rather than it being a memoir. Because let's be honest if your that whacked out of your head and haven't slept in 4 or 5 days your NOT gonna remember those kinda details that, months/years later, you can recall and turn into a book. I know I have been around addicts and they can't remember what they did the last 2 hours much less what they did months ago. That is not to say I don't believe the author because I 1st let me start off by saying although I gave this book 4 stars it is for the "story" rather than it being a memoir. Because let's be honest if your that whacked out of your head and haven't slept in 4 or 5 days your NOT gonna remember those kinda details that, months/years later, you can recall and turn into a book. I know I have been around addicts and they can't remember what they did the last 2 hours much less what they did months ago. That is not to say I don't believe the author because I do. I believe he went thru junkie hell. I believe his parents loved so much that they blindly supported his slow crawl towards death. I believe he "sketched out" and the others around him did as well. I believe the prostitution and all the scams and what not to get money for drugs. I believe because its REAL. Have someone close to you go through it and you can read this book and go "yup that's what it's like". But what I don't like is this was a memoir and just not him saying I'm gonna write a story and although for that time in my life I do NOT remember exact conversations I'm going to sell it as if I do. With all that being said this is perhaps the most realistic account I have ever read of what a meth addiction is like and if you know someone who is caught up in this world and you don't understand wtf is going on...read this book. Meth is evil and this book...for a time...takes you into the darkness and shows you what exactly happens when you take it by the hand and call it friend

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kennedy Hites

    The book opens with Jimmy’s first encounters into drug addiction, crime, the justice system, and a self perceived “glamorous thug life” as a high schooler in Princeton New Jersey. Brought up in a middle-class family, the second son of two therapists, he was introduced to heroin at seventeen by his brother Joe. This resulted in a spell in rehab where he met a bunch of ex-convicts, and he soon fell into the thuggish, drifting lifestyle of meth addiction. It took a near death experience with his be The book opens with Jimmy’s first encounters into drug addiction, crime, the justice system, and a self perceived “glamorous thug life” as a high schooler in Princeton New Jersey. Brought up in a middle-class family, the second son of two therapists, he was introduced to heroin at seventeen by his brother Joe. This resulted in a spell in rehab where he met a bunch of ex-convicts, and he soon fell into the thuggish, drifting lifestyle of meth addiction. It took a near death experience with his beloved drug to snap out of the year long coma he was in. This memoir didn't keep me captivated for long periods of time. There were many slow patches but when there was something interesting, it was worth the read. Before Leaving Dirty Jersey, I wasn't aware of the different types of drugs and the effects of them. It was very educational and eye opening personally. Although, a lot of graphic content was difficult to stomach, they were minor barriers that let me grasp the raw honesty of the book. The authors purpose is to give kids nowadays, who might be on the fence, a chance to "explore that world". In an interview, Salant said that when he first started getting involved in drugs, there wasnt a book to help him. The theme of the memoir is drugs and violence.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Georgio-who

    This book started off so promising. In the first few pages the writing was captivating and so well written that you felt you were right beside James/Jim/Jimmy while he was being arrested, after that the book just sort of fell flat. Everything was great until Jim got to GSL. The writing tapered off and the story was repetitive. Here is a basic run down: get high get horny get robbed repeat After reading this book it really makes me question how people become drug addicts. I don't think I'd enjoy tweak This book started off so promising. In the first few pages the writing was captivating and so well written that you felt you were right beside James/Jim/Jimmy while he was being arrested, after that the book just sort of fell flat. Everything was great until Jim got to GSL. The writing tapered off and the story was repetitive. Here is a basic run down: get high get horny get robbed repeat After reading this book it really makes me question how people become drug addicts. I don't think I'd enjoy tweakin, sketching, or rooting very much...then again I'm not a drug addict. I was hoping that this book would give me some insight was to the drive and desire to always want to be high but it didn't. I just learned that Jimmy was from a well off family and he wanted to be a thug very badly. The book ended sort of abruptly and I would have liked to have read more about recovery then I did about him going from Suzy's, to Patti's, to Pauls, to.... The book only got interesting right after the chapter called The Overdose. I definitely won't be re-reading this book and I want to avoid memoirs for a bit.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Bromley

    I was amazed at how quick and easy to read this book was. As I began reading the book I was a little annoyed with the review placed on the front of the book by New York Times Book Review "Salant makes his mark by telling his tale plainly and well". This bothered me because, if I ever wrote something and had it published, I would like to think reviewers would have something a little more colorful to say. As I continued to read the book, however, I began to agree with the review and think of it in I was amazed at how quick and easy to read this book was. As I began reading the book I was a little annoyed with the review placed on the front of the book by New York Times Book Review "Salant makes his mark by telling his tale plainly and well". This bothered me because, if I ever wrote something and had it published, I would like to think reviewers would have something a little more colorful to say. As I continued to read the book, however, I began to agree with the review and think of it in a more positive light given what it had said. The book is written in a style that makes it simple to read, as well as deeply engrossing. I had a clear picture of the grotesque trailer parks and meth-heads, as well as the scenery surrounding a meth riddled picture of California. This truly was a page-turner for me, and I am happy that at the time of publishing (if not still) James Salant is sober. I feel sad that I don't have more to say in this review, because my enjoyment of the book feels understated, but this has quickly become one of my favorite books I have read recently.

  27. 4 out of 5

    ellen

    I read this book in concert with "No Speed Limit" -- I read this first and it gave a pretty harrowing account of the author's meth dependence, and how screwed up his life became for a period of time. I was going to say that this is not your typical story of drug addiction, relapse and ultimate recovery, because the author was from a priviledged background -- but then I realized that people that write books (and get them published) about there journey are more likely than not a part of an affluen I read this book in concert with "No Speed Limit" -- I read this first and it gave a pretty harrowing account of the author's meth dependence, and how screwed up his life became for a period of time. I was going to say that this is not your typical story of drug addiction, relapse and ultimate recovery, because the author was from a priviledged background -- but then I realized that people that write books (and get them published) about there journey are more likely than not a part of an affluent sphere. Not to say that Meth addiction does not affect all types of folks, regardless of class-- that much I learned from "No Speed Limit" -- just that the voices that we are likely to hear are one's like the author, other's showing up as characters along the way. This book made me look at the world around me a bit differently -- revealing to me that this world outside of my sphere exists around me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    For me, reading this book was more educational than pleasurable. I wouldn't necessarily call it well-written, as many of the episodes the author recounts seem repetitive, and they don't culminate to any final climax, from what I could tell. The beginning didn't "grab my attention," and I felt that the entire thing left one with little sense of surprise, both during the reading and at the end. However, I easily recognized the temperament and actions of a good friend of mine in those of the author/ For me, reading this book was more educational than pleasurable. I wouldn't necessarily call it well-written, as many of the episodes the author recounts seem repetitive, and they don't culminate to any final climax, from what I could tell. The beginning didn't "grab my attention," and I felt that the entire thing left one with little sense of surprise, both during the reading and at the end. However, I easily recognized the temperament and actions of a good friend of mine in those of the author/narrator, so that alone was enough to force me onward through the novel--eager to know as much as possible about this lifestyle, to understand it and recognize it. I don't think Salant fully or vividly captured the overwhelming compulsion of addiction, but he laid out the lifestyle and habits of a drug addict very plainly and thoroughly (from what I know and have observed in Real Life). I would be interested to know what other addicts would have to say about this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Hendo

    I read this one with my students in mind, and while I really liked it, it's completely inappropriate for school--too much adult language and content--even for a book about drug abuse. Story begins w/ a kid in Jersey who--while tripping--is arrested and charged for possession w/ intent to dist. He goes to rehab in Cali, relapses, and the book talks about his year of drug abuse. While it's marketed as a cautionary tale, Salant doesn't do much cautioning--his year on the wild side almost sounds lik I read this one with my students in mind, and while I really liked it, it's completely inappropriate for school--too much adult language and content--even for a book about drug abuse. Story begins w/ a kid in Jersey who--while tripping--is arrested and charged for possession w/ intent to dist. He goes to rehab in Cali, relapses, and the book talks about his year of drug abuse. While it's marketed as a cautionary tale, Salant doesn't do much cautioning--his year on the wild side almost sounds like fun, which is bad. There are some scary moments, but his final breakdown is poorly described, and he doesn't put much faith in rehab--he basically says he stopped using on his own...whatever. Interesting read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shelby McGibney

    This book was a little different for me to read, as I typically will chose much "lighter" material. The second I started reading, I couldn't stop. On the first day that I opened the book (the day that my finals for the semester ended), I read the first 150 pages in one sitting. The way that Salant described each situation and the way he felt during this intense year was perfectly descriptive without being too heavy to read. There were certain parts of the book that were devastating, and others t This book was a little different for me to read, as I typically will chose much "lighter" material. The second I started reading, I couldn't stop. On the first day that I opened the book (the day that my finals for the semester ended), I read the first 150 pages in one sitting. The way that Salant described each situation and the way he felt during this intense year was perfectly descriptive without being too heavy to read. There were certain parts of the book that were devastating, and others that were a little humorous. Overall, I've found myself maintaining a very different mindset while walking down the street past the homeless and "less-clean" population. Salant does a great job instilling the emotion of empathy rather than disgust in his readers regarding the addicted population.

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