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Extended Audio Sample Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir, by Bill Clegg Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,384 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bill Clegg Narrator: Joshua Ferris, Bill Clegg Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Bill Clegg had a thriving business as a literary agent, a supportive partner, trusting colleagues, and loving friends when he walked away from his world and embarked on a two-month crack binge. He had been released from rehab nine months earlier, and his relapse would cost him his home, his money, his career, and very nearly his life.

What is it that leads an exceptional young mind want to disappear? Clegg makes stunningly clear the attraction of the drug that had him in its thrall, capturing in scene after scene the drama, tension, and paranoiac nightmare of a secret life--and the exhilarating bliss that came again and again until it was eclipsed almost entirely by doom. He also explores the shape of addiction, how its pattern--not its cause--can be traced to the past.

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is an utterly compelling narrative--lyrical, irresistible, harsh, honest, and beautifully written--from which you simply cannot look away. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Bill Clegg’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man stand up to Frederick Exley’s great memoir of alcoholism, A Fan’s Notes…But really, forget comparisons. Read the book.”

    Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hours

  • “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, author of Trainspotting

  • “Mesmerizing…Reading it is like letting the needle down on a Nick Drake album. Clegg tells his story in short, atmospheric paragraphs, each separated by white space, each its own strobe-lighted snapshot of decadent poetic memory…Among the reasons to stick with Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is the lightly narcotized sensorium of Mr. Clegg’s prose…He can write.”

    New York Times

  • “A book that will not soon be forgotten…The narrative has a floating quality that manages to be at once brutally specific and oddly poetic…Clegg’s descent is a skillfully conjured, slow-motion wreck from which it’s impossible to look away. His handling of time, especially wasted time, has an undulating, telescoping quality…That Clegg survived and is well enough to write a book this good is incredible.”

    Globe and Mail (Toronto)

  • “It turns out there is room on the shelf for one more addiction memoir…Clegg spares no one’s feelings, least of all his own; it’s not the brutality that makes this worthwhile but rather the strange beauty of the stream-of-consciousness prose. We’re voyeurs, as helpless to stop the carnage as the author himself.”


  • “A heartbreaking and completely absorbing look at the wreckage of cocaine addiction.”


  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Kathryn | 2/15/2014

    " Probably more of a 2.5. I thought it was surprisingly well written for the most part. One stylistic choice that drove me nuts though, was his decision to write about himself in the 3rd person as a child. I also didn't find the actual story that compelling. I thought the book focused too much on his (hopefully) last bender, which basically just involved checking into different fancy hotels, getting high, and having sex with strangers--not all that interesting after a few pages--and doesn't make you care about the narrator, since we only see him behaving deplorably to everyone around him. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Eve | 2/5/2014

    " Not necessarily original, but riveting nevertheless. Clegg's story of his descent into addiction is harrowing and compelling and it is also really heartening to see that his friends and family stood by him and helped him pull his life together in the aftermath. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jenny | 2/4/2014

    " At first I was unhappy with how he would jump from childhood to his current high to college to another high to childhood etc, flipping between tenses. But really, it makes the book into two stories that don't exactly intertwine...and I'm certain my diaries look the same way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lerd Lorensen | 2/4/2014

    " Great self destruction narrative. Clegg is a talented writer. His early childhood sections are kind of a drag however and it's a little short for my tastes. "

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