On his 53rd birthday, Kevin Sessums woke up in his L.A. hotel room wondering how he would get through his scheduled interview with Hugh Jackman. For years he had interviewed the bright lights: Madonna, Courtney Love, Jessica Lange, and all the other usual suspects; but, Kevin knew that his rapidly unraveling life was as shallow as the hotel's hip furniture and he was hanging on by his fingertips. In I Left It on the Mountain, Sessums chronicles his early days in NY as an actor, his years working for Andy Warhol at Interview and Tina Brown at Vanity Fair, countless nights of anonymous sex, his HIV Positive diagnosis and his descent into addiction. It's also the chronicle of one man's spiritual redemption found while climbing to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostelo and trudging across the cold, lonely winter beaches of Provincetown. Peopled with the famous like Daniel Radcliffe and Diane Sawyer as well as anonymous companions corporeal and otherwise whom he met while mountain climbing and hiking, I Left It on the Mountain is the story of one man's fall and rebirth, the next moving chapter in Kevin Sessums' extraordinary life that takes him from the high to the low and back again. For readers who loved Mississippi Sissy and want to know what happened to that tenacious little boy with the baseball mitt, I Left It On the Mountain is the sometimes very dark, but ultimately hopeful answer.
In the absorbing follow-up to his bestselling memoir Mississippi Sissy, Sessums brings his fascinating voice to this story of ambition, addiction, and recovery. Sessums chronicles his career as a prominent celebrity writer for Vanity Fair, Interview, and Parade, rubbing elbows with Andy Warhol and interviewing Madonna and Courtney Love before falling into methamphetamine addiction. Interludes throughout the primary narrative detail Sessums's love of extreme travel: he's climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and walked the famed El Camino Santiago across Spain. However, his love of other extremes in sex and drugs seeps into his sparkling career. After a night of bingeing on meth with a prostitute, he shows up to interview Daniel Radcliffe and asks, "Do you use Keats's theory of negative capability in your approach to acting, in your approach to life?" Radcliffe answers, "Absolutely! You've found me out!" As the cycle of drugs followed by successful interviews continues, it becomes clear that Sessums is treading in dangerous water: the more he is able to function despite his addiction, the worse it becomes. The persistent subtext is that his talent for cover-ups only delays the inevitable rock bottom. And it comes: Sessums, left penniless and hallucinating, gives up his beloved dogs to try getting sober in Provincetown, Mass. Sessums's beautiful writing carries readers through an extraordinary journey of destitution, hope, and forgiveness, from a childhood in rural Mississippi to New York City and beyond.
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At times harrowing - at times sweet. The reader is rooting for The Author through it all. Well-written and brave.