Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg; A Preparation for Death by Greg Baxter - review by William Leith

William Leith

In The Slough Of Despond

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man


Jonathan Cape 240pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

A Preparation for Death


Penguin Ireland 207pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Some people have sneered at Bill Clegg’s addiction memoir because Clegg, a New York literary agent, was wealthy during the time he was a crackhead. This completely misses the point. If anything, wealthy crack addicts are more hardcore than broke ones, because they have more money to spend on crack. With large supplies of money, the rich crack addict stays longer at rock bottom. More importantly, Clegg has written a very, very good book.

We first see him towards the end of a typical crack binge deep into his addiction. ‘I can’t leave and there isn’t enough,’ he tells us, and this sums up his experience as an addict. He is always chasing something, and it’s always just out of his reach.

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