Five and a half years ago, Dave Itzkoff wrote a searing New York magazine story called “Cocaine’s Kid.” His full-length follow-up, Cocaine’s Son: A Memoir, hits bookstores this month—and, like the magazine article, it’s a quick and fascinating read.
At first, it seems that, aside from his drug addiction, which dated back to the 1970s, Itzkoff’s dad—a gruff, Jewish fur dealer—could have stepped out of some Depression-era novel. “He was such an elusive and transient figure,” Itzkoff writes in the memoir’s opening passage, “that for the first eight years of my life I seem to have believed that my father was the product of my imagination.” But the figure who emerges here is more complicated than we expect him to be; it takes the son years to understand the most basic things about his father, and longer still to come to terms with his actions. In that sense, at least, this memoir finally turns toward the most universal things.
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