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Twenty-twenty-twenty four hours to go I wanna be sedated

Dear Betsy:

I just read a review of a new book by Tom Bissell, Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter . My question: How many bad habits does a memoir need? Judging from the excerpt, nowadays you have to at least spice your memoir with some kind of overuse or abuse of drugs, and this is on top of what looks like overuse or abuse of video games.

Sincerely, Name Withheld

Dear Addict:

As David Carr pointed out in his review of the addict-du-jour memoir, Portrait of the Agent as a Young Addict, we love to watch car wrecks. So I suspect that as long as that is true, and I know I haven’t tired of bending my neck for even a nothing crash on the Merritt Parkway, there will always be room for narratives of self-destruction. When I think of memoirs that felt like game changers (and I am well aware that only assholes use the term ‘game changer’), I think of (in some kind of rough chronology): Anne Frank’s Diary, I Am Third, Papillon, Mommie Dearest, Sybil (not a memoir per se), The Words to Say It, Hope Against Hope, The Thief’s Journal, The Basketball Diaries, Shot in the Heart, The Kiss, Lucky, Autobiography of a Face, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, One More Theory of Happiness, Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea (okay, I haven’t read it but I love the title), and Just Kids.

In my own rich contribution to the genre, I wrote about the crossroads of bi-polar and food issues as the main course. I threw in as side dishes: promiscuity, suicide, shrink rage, prescription drug abuse, hospitalization and an abortion. It sold 16,000 copies. Hardly worth it.

What memoirs rocked your world with or without addictions?