The intimate, gorgeous, garish confessions of Joshua Mohr—writer, father, alcoholic, addict
Her teeth marks in the wood are some of my favorite things. Every now and again she rips the pick out of my hand and tosses it inside the guitar . . . I hold it over my head, hole down, shaking it back and forth, the pick rattling around in there. And as it ricochets from side to side, I always think about pills. Maybe the pick has turned into oxy. Or Norco, codeine, Demerol. Maybe it’s a pill and when it falls out I can gobble it up.
After years of hard-won sobriety, while rebuilding a life with his wife and young daughter, thirty-five-year-old Joshua Mohr suffers a stroke—his third, it turns out— which uncovers a heart condition requiring surgery. Which requires fentanyl, one of his myriad drugs of choice. This forced “freelapse” should fix his heart, but what will it do to his sobriety? And what if it doesn’t work?
Told in stunning, surreal, time-hopping vignettes, Model Citizen is a raw, revealing portrait of an addict. Mohr shines a harsh spotlight into all corners of his life, throwing the wild joys, tragedies, embarrassments, and adventures of his past into bold relief.
Pulsing with humanity and humor, revealing the immediacy of an addict climbing out of the murky pit of his past, Model Citizen is a darkly beautiful, incisive confession.
Novelist Mohr (Termite Parade) chronicles his harrowing addiction story in this unflinching memoir. Mohr's troubles started in childhood when, before the age of 11, his dad abandoned his family and his mother got hooked on pills and alcohol. Mohr began to drop acid before class in high school, didn't take to college as a result of his growing dependencies, and moved to San Francisco, where he got deep into heroin, cocaine, and ketamine. Addiction-fueled chaos followed, with blackouts so deep he would come to miles from where his binge began; one time, he started in San Francisco and woke up 200 miles away at a bar deep in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, Calif., where he had to ask a stranger, "Excuse me, kind sir, can you please tell me where I might be located?" He eventually found lifelines he went back to school, forged a career as a novelist, got married, and had a daughter who inspired him to get sober. However, he began to suffer strokes in his early 30s, caused by a previously undiagnosed heart condition, and was informed by his doctor that he isn't likely to live past 50. Even so, Mohr notes, "I continue to be the luckiest unlucky person. Even if I only have a few years left alive." It's this haunting threat of a foreshortened life that sets this work apart from traditional addiction memoirs. Mohr's raw account is equally shocking and moving.