He was the writer who got the second chance and took it for all it was worth. New York Times media columnist David Carr battled his way out of alcoholism and crack addiction to become one of his paper’s most highly respected reporters. On Thursday night, he died. But it seems Carr has one last story to tell — and it's his own. In the two days since his death, paperback copies of David Carr’s The Night of The Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life have completely sold out on Amazon.
In The Night of The Gun, Carr writes about the more harrowing moments of his addiction and the memories that haunt him. He was smoking crack with his pregnant girlfriend when her water broke. He left his infant children alone in his car to go buy drugs. He frequently got high with the sources he was supposed to be covering. Carr wrote:
As I sit today, I am a genuine, often pleasant person. I am able to imitate a human being for long spurts of time, do solid work for a reputable organization, and have, over the breadth of time, proven to be an attentive father and husband. So how to reconcile my past with my current circumstances? Drugs, it seems to me, do not conjure demons, they access them. Was I faking it then, or am I faking it now? Which, you might ask, of my two selves did I make up?
The birth of his daughters eventually gave him what he needed to get clean. And in 2002, he joined the New York Times as a media reporter. In his column, The Media Equation, Carr covered the media stories that counted, from the Charlie Hebdo attacks to the media titans, and the telling, such as his column on the "Narcissistick."
He was devoted to his paper, and his paper was devoted to him. In his review of the documentary from inside the New York Times, Page One, Michael Kinsley wrote:
The unlikely hero of “Page One” is a media columnist and reporter named David Carr. The moviemakers must have felt that they had found their Jimmy Breslin or their Hildy Johnson (the real and fictional archetypes of the crusty, hard-living journalist) when they found him. Mr. Carr is widely admired for his reporting, his intelligence and his Tough Old Coot routine.
But as Carr wrote in his memoir, his goal was not to be an iconic reporter, or anything quite so lofty: "It wasn't that I wanted to be a writer; I just didn't want to be stupid."