Out in paperback from Constable tomorrow (at the slightly less daunting price of £8.99).
Out in paperback from Constable tomorrow (at the slightly less daunting price of £8.99).
My addiction memoir gets a very nice review in the new TLS as part of an omnibus roundup of various books on the theme.
Eric J. Iannelli describes Never Enough as “erudite and ruminative” and writes:
“In ‘My Chemical Romance’, the first of two sections, the music critic and journalist, now approaching sixty, looks back on himself in his late teens and sees in the discontented peripheral figure who is unable to blunt the fervency of his emotions ‘an addict waiting to happen’. At twenty, he shoots up for the first time, immediately discovering a ‘one-size-fits-all remedy for the core angst of sentient being’. ‘I can see my crippling self-doubt’, he writes of the instant when the drug hits his brain, ‘but – most precious of all gifts – I can no longer feel it.’
“This mirrors the epiphanic moment experienced by many addicts, the first magical encounter with a substance that allows us to inhabit ourselves fully and elude that pervasive sense of soul-deep discomfort, to feel genuinely at home among humanity and yet uniquely separate from it, impervious to its malice and somehow more attuned to its beauty. Thus begins, as the title Never Enough suggests, the interminable quest to re-experience that moment in perpetuity.
“For Hoskyns, this quest lasted three increasingly desperate years, until he grew sufficiently exhausted by its futility. He has spent the nearly three decades since in recovery attempting to anchor ‘the poor little tentacles of self’ – a phrase he borrows from Edith Wharton for his memoir’s second, more philosophical and introspective section – to firmer stuff. He draws considerably on other writers and thinkers as he contemplates how self and ego function in the addict, teasing out universalities that once in a while tread too close to oversimplification. By and large, however, his writing is worth savouring for his descriptions of the multifaceted nature of addiction, the paradox of sobriety that makes surrender a form of victory, and the role of our zeitgeist in stoking the flames of disenchantment, self-seeking, alienation, impatience and invidious distinction that drugs are, however fleetingly, able to dampen. ‘There’s such a desperate hunger to be somebody and mean something’ in this age of social media and unbridled narcissism, writes Hoskyns; ‘the entire machine of global capitalism . . . has become addictive and compulsive’.
“Though relatively slender in terms of page count, Never Enough is substantial and satisfying…
At the end of this month I’ll be discussing Small Town Talk and Never Enough: A Way through Addiction with Richard Havers at the Appledore Book Festival, just north of Bideford in gorgeous North Devon. The festival also boasts Ian Rankin, Jeremy Paxman… and Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards.
I’ll be discussing my book Never Enough: A Way through Addiction with Granta publisher Sigrid Rausing (left), author of Mayhem, and Alex Clark (right) at the CHELTENHAM LITERATURE FESTIVAL on SATURDAY 14th OCTOBER at 2:30 pm. The event is entitled “Addiction: Everybody Hurts”…
THREE DATES for your diary, if you happen to be in the relevant vicinities:
• I’ll be discussing Never Enough: A Way through Addiction at the Margate Bookie (Turner Contemporary) on Saturday 19 August at 2.0 pm.
• I’ll be Small Town Talk-ing about Woodstock, New York, and about Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Bobby Charles, Todd Rundgren, Albert Grossman, Karen Dalton and the whole gang at Bewdley Book Week (Riverside Elim) on Wednesday 6 September at 7.30 pm.
• I’ll be returning to the theme of Never Enough (while also Small Town Talk-ing) at the Appledore Book Festival (St. Mary’s Hall) on Sunday 24th September at 8.30 pm.
Herewith a Soundcloud recording of me reading from Small Town Talk and Never Enough last week in Liverpool…
La Violette Società 10
Tuesday, May 30th 2017, 9pm
Studio 2, Parr Street, Liverpool
Violette Records’ ‘La Violette Società’ is always more than just a gig. Its ethos – audiences buying a ticket to see an artist, leaving the venue talking about another act and armed with books or a t-shirt sold by a third performer – is inspiring and has been a catalyst for a lot in Liverpool over the last year or so. This time, they’ve invited music journalist and author Barney Hoskyns to town to talk about his latest book. By Alan O’Hare.
“It’ll be fun… don’t we all like brave experiments?” Barney Hoskyns, acclaimed author and auteur, is talking about coming to Liverpool this month to discuss his latest book, Never Enough: A Way Through Addiction. But he could be talking about a number of things. Successful scribe Barney, see, may have mingled with rock ‘n’ roll’s brightest burning stars, but it was a musical martyr of another kind that nearly put out his own lights: heroin. “I harboured no secret longing to be a junkie,” he reveals. “But most human beings behave addictively – I feel it everywhere.”
You’ll know Hoskyns’ name, even if you’re not familiar with his familiar tale. A former contributing editor at Vogue and Mojo magazines, the man who has literally wrote the book on the likes of Tom Waits, Woodstock and rock’s back pages is a renowned name in music and journalism. But addiction nearly made him infamous: “Addiction doesn’t stop just because you’ve had years of not using,” he says. “I’ve written this book to examine if it’s possible to move beyond addiction.”
It’s a question he’ll be tackling at Parr Street’s Studio 2 next week (May 30), where he’ll be appearing live at the tenth ‘La Violette Società‘. “The request came out of the blue, but I’m a huge Michael Head fan,” says Hoskyns (Violette Records is the home of ex-Shack man Head and the hosts of the happening). “I’ve been to Liverpool and wrote about many bands, but nobody articulates that certain kind of pain like Michael.” Time to set the scene…
It’s a brave book, Never Enough…
I never planned to write it! It’s about one’s relationship with oneself and my reflections on what addiction means for individuals and society. What do you learn after you stop using?
What have you learned?
Bigger picture… it’s a an expression of society’s pain. But the book isn’t a ‘self-help’ read – it’s a rumination on how destructive addiction is, both psychologically and spiritually. Not to mention physically.
How destructive was heroin to your life?
I went looking for a connection in the wrong places. Taking opiate drugs was less painful than being me – I wasn’t a wild child acting out internal distress.
What happened, then?
I was either going to die or get help… and I needed to find a place I didn’t have to live addictively. The help is out there and they’re the well-worn paths you know about.
Talking to people helps…
The only antidote to self-destructive isolation is to open-up and let other humans in. Hey… I’m no evangelist, but you’ve just got to find a way to do that.
From the outside looking in, it appears Michael Head himself has thankfully found the same path.
‘Daniella‘ and the devastation brought home in that song… I’m aware of Micheal’s struggle. But, like I say, nobody articulates it like him.
When did you first start listening to his music?
It started with The Magical World Of The Strands for me. Obviously, I was around during the time of The Pale Fountains, but I’m not sure I would have gotten them back then, even if I’d been aware of them. But that album was like Arthur Lee had been reborn in Liverpool!
They’re both big favourites around here…
I spoke to John Head about Arthur when I was writing a book for MOJO. The thing is, the Head brothers’ music isn’t a slave-ish tribute to Lee, it’s just distinctive and has that Liverpool way of using warped psychedelia that is almost Californian… that’s unique to your city.
Let’s talk a bit about your books. Lowside Of The Road is a cracker – Tom Waits?
Tom had romantic notions of self-destruction, but he changed just in time. I was fascinated by that change as the straighter he became, the more crazy his music sounded!
That’s true. He found love, too, of course…
Yes and he’s a great dad etc., too, as he didn’t selfishly fuck up. It’s funny, now he’s a risk-taking and demented performer instead of doing it in real life. Interesting.
Your most recent musical book, Small Town Talk, looks in and around Woodstock. Why there?
It comes back to addiction again… there is so much damage in the story of those musicians. Can you have soulful music without pain?
“Why do we suffer? Because we have to.” Bruce Springsteen said that.
Without wishing to generalise a particular place, it’s like all that early eighties music that came from Liverpool – the Bunnymen, Pete Wylie et al – when it fails it was almost comical, but when it triumphs it really is beautiful. It’s romanticism flirting with the dark side… bedsit heroism.
Barney Hoskyns, Never Enough: A Way Through Addiction, is published by Constable