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The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder

by

The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder Cover

ISBN13: 9781555975388
ISBN10: 1555975380
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the spring of 2007, a brilliant computer programmer named Hans Reiser stands accused of murdering his estranged wife, Nina. Despite a mountain of circumstantial evidence against him, he proclaims his innocence. The case takes a twist when Nina's former lover, and Hans's former best friend, Sean Sturgeon, confesses to eight unrelated murders that no one has ever heard of.

At the time of Sturgeon's confession, Stephen Elliot is paralyzed by writer's block, in the thrall of Adderall dependency, and despondent over the state of his romantic life. But he is fascinated by Sturgeon, whose path he has often crossed in San Francisco's underground S&M scene. What kind of person, he wonders, confesses to a murder he likely did not commit? One answer is, perhaps, a man like Elliott's own father.

So begins a riveting journey through a neon landscape of false confessions, self-medication, and torturous sex. Set against the backdrop of a nation at war, in the declining years of the Silicon Valley tech boom and the dawn of Paris Hilton's celebrity, The Adderall Diaries is at once a gripping account of a murder trial and a scorching investigation of the self. Tough, tender, and unflinchingly honest, it is the breakout book by one of the most daring writers of his generation.

Review:

"As a writer stymied by past success, writers block, substance abuse, relationship problems and a serious set of father issues, Elliott's cracked-out chronicle of a bizarre murder trial amounts to less than the sum of its parts. Not long into the 2007 trial of programmer Hans Reiser, accused of murdering his wife, the defendant's friend Sean Sturgeon obliquely confessed to several murders (though not the murder of Reiser's wife). Elliott, caught up in the film-ready twist and his tenuous connection to Sturgeon (they share a BDSM social circle), makes a gonzo record of the proceedings. The result is a scattered, self-indulgent romp through the mind of a depressive narcissist obsessed with his insecurities and childhood traumas. Elliott is an undeniably good writer, but his voice has more to do with amphetamines than the author himself or the trial at hand. Elliott's frustration with himself is contagious; any readers expecting a true crime will be bewildered, and those familiar with Elliott (My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up) will find more (or less) of the same." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"An endlessly fascinating memoir by a profoundly courageous writer....[A] refined, beautiful work of art....Deserves a place on the shelf next to such classics of uninhibited American introspection as On the Road and A Fan's Notes." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Review:

"Elliott has written a harrowing, honest, and — yes — brilliant memoir....It's a remarkable achievement. While some may shy away from its gritty subject matter, the book is never salacious or pornographic. Instead it feels lived-in and sincere, the way only the very best memoirs can." Bookslut

Review:

"Brilliant, memorable prose...an unforgettable read." Foreword

Review:

"You don't just read The Adderall Diaries; you fall right into them. You read as if you are a few words behind the writer, trying to catch up, to find out what happens, to yell at him that he's doing a great job. And he is. It's a brilliant book." Roddy Doyle

Review:

"The Adderall Diaries is a startling and original concoction, an irresistible melding of reportage and memoir and reconstruction. This is Stephen Elliott's best book, perfectly suited to his gifts as a seeker, as a storyteller, as a poet of wounds, unwelcome and otherwise." Sam Lipsyte

Review:

"The Adderall Diaries is phenomenal. With jittery finesse and a reformed tweaker's eye for detail, Stephen Elliott captures the terrifying, hilarious, heart-strangling reality of a life whose scorched-earth physical and psycho-emotional dimensions no one could have invented — they absolutely had to be lived. By all rights, the author should either be dead or chewing his fingers in a bus station. Instead, he may well have written the memoir of an entire generation." Jerry Stahl

Review:

"I felt like a voyeur reading Stephen Elliott's memoir — what is shocking and unbearable to most of us is commonplace to him. Although a murder trial provides the structure for this book, it is really about the strangeness of life, about things that don't make sense and never will, about lessons that don't get learned, and ultimately about what we can and can't know about ourselves and others. Reading The Adderall Diaries is like taking a step toward the edge of a cliff so you can peer down and imagine what it might be like to slip and fall. Normally we shudder and step back. Stephen Elliott jumps, and his harrowing, riveting memoir convinces you to follow him vicariously." Amy Tan

Review:

"The Adderall Diaries begins like the ocean, seemingly able to take in everything — prize fights to Paris Hilton — until the ocean forms into a river, making its way through unmapped territories — a murder, an absent father — and finally this river is distilled into one precious teardrop. Stephen Elliott is one of those 'people who keep searching when everything is dark' — I don't know a more hauntingly fearless writer, and this is an immediate, visceral, and ultimately beautiful book." Nick Flynn

Review:

"[A]mbitious and emotional and brilliantly orchestrated, an embroidery of memoir and true-crime reportage that's so stunning that I can’t imagine Elliott writing about the above-mentioned murder case without also confronting his past (or vice versa)....Each strand is insightful and lucid; woven together, they form a thriving work of art." Fanzine

Review:

"Stephen Elliott's superb, sprawling meta-memoir might be just what the genre needs to salvage it from the legacy of James Frey....Elliott's style is unadorned and often achieves a quiet poetry..." Time Out New York

Synopsis:

Set against the backdrop of a nation at war, The Adderall Diaries is at once a gripping account of a murder trial and a scorching investigation of the self. Elliott presents a riveting journey through a landscape of false confessions, self-medication, and torturous sex.

Synopsis:

In this groundbreaking memoir, Stephen Elliott pursues parallel investigations: a gripping account of a notorious San Francisco murder trial, and an electric exploration of the self. Destined to be a classic, The Adderall Diaries was described by The Washington Post as “a serious literary work designed to make you see the world as youve never quite seen it before.”

Synopsis:

In the spring of 2007, a brilliant computer programmer named Hans Reiser stands accused of murdering his estranged wife, Nina. Despite a mountain of circumstantial evidence against him, he proclaims his innocence. The case takes a twist when Ninas former lover, and Hanss former best friend, Sean Sturgeon, confesses to eight unrelated murders that no one has ever heard of.

At the time of Sturgeons confession, Stephen Elliot is paralyzed by writers block, in the thrall of Adderall dependency, and despondent over the state of his romantic life. But he is fascinated by Sturgeon, whose path he has often crossed in San Franciscos underground S&M scene. What kind of person, he wonders, confesses to a murder he likely did not commit? One answer is, perhaps, a man like Elliotts own father.

So begins a riveting journey through a neon landscape of false confessions, self-medication, and torturous sex. Set against the backdrop of a nation at war, in the declining years of the Silicon Valley tech boom and the dawn of Paris Hiltons celebrity, The Adderall Diaries is at once a gripping account of a murder trial and a scorching investigation of the self. Tough, tender, and unflinchingly honest, it is the breakout book by one of the most daring writers of his generation.

Stephen Elliott is the author of seven books including Happy Baby, a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award and a best book of 2004 in Salon.com, Newsday, Chicago New City, The Journal News, and The Village Voice. In addition to writing fiction, he frequently writes on politics. Elliott's writing has been featured in Esquire, the New York Times, GQ, Best American Non-Required Reading 2005 and 2007, Best American Erotica, and Best Sex Writing 2006. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and is a member of the San Francisco Writer's Grotto. He is the editor of The Rumpus.

In the spring of 2007, a brilliant computer programmer named Hans Reiser stands accused of murdering his estranged wife, Nina. Despite a mountain of circumstantial evidence against him, he proclaims his innocence. The case takes a twist when Nina's former lover, and Hans's former best friend, Sean Sturgeon, confesses to eight unrelated murders that no one has ever heard of.
 
At the time of Sturgeon's confession, Stephen Elliot is paralyzed by writer's block, in the thrall of Adderall dependency, and despondent over the state of his romantic life. But he is fascinated by Sturgeon, whose path he has often crossed in San Francisco's underground S&M scene. What kind of person, he wonders, confesses to a murder he likely did not commit? One answer is, perhaps, a man like Elliotts own father.
 
So begins a riveting journey through a neon landscape of false confessions, self-medication, and torturous sex. Set against the backdrop of a nation at war, in the declining years of the Silicon Valley tech boom and the dawn of Paris Hilton's celebrity, The Adderall Diaries is at once a gripping account of a murder trial and a scorching investigation of the self. Tough, tender, and unflinchingly honest, it is the breakout book by one of the most daring writers of his generation.
"Elliott ruthlessly flays the truth past the point of tears, to heights of consciousness achievable only through the masochistic act of writing. Elliott may be writing under the influence, but it's the influence of genius."Vanity Fair

"The Adderall Diaries should be a lurid work. Among its unsettling elements are the trial of a computer programmer suspected of murdering his Russian wife and a confession by the programmer's best friend that he killed several people. The author's father claimed to have shot a man—something Elliott couldn't corroborate or disprove. The memoir also covers memories of a wretched childhood, drug use and Elliott's addiction to masochistic sex. Yet this is no potboiler, but a serious literary work designed to make you see the world as you've never quite seen it before. The intensity of Elliott's often beautiful prose evokes the effects of Adderall, the attention deficit medication. Yet the book shows a concern for order: Each chapter begins with a summary of what's to follow, reminiscent of the headings in Victorian novels, and there are even several footnotes. Nonetheless, beneath these devices throbs an all-pervasive sense of the elusiveness of truth. Memories deceive, and almost everyone in this book—including the author—is a fantasist."—Juliet Wittman, The Washington Post

"In a time where memoir writers are scrutinized for their authenticity and truthfulness (or lack thereof), Elliott admits that The Adderall Diaries is true enough—at least as true as he remembers it. True enough, anyway, to provide for an intriguing, entertaining read."—Kevin Allen, The Chicago Sun-Times

"Stephen Elliott's superb, sprawling meta-memoir might be just what the genre needs to salvage it from the legacy of James Frey."Time Out New York

"If you're the type of reader who always wants to know what to expect, Stephen Elliott isn't your guy. But if you can take your literary sharp turns without hitting the brakes—or knowing exactly where you'll end up—you won't find a more provocative, masterful, thrilling ride than this."—Meredith Maran, San Francisco Chronicle

"Nakedly manipulative and all but impossible to resist . . . [The first sentence] sucked me in twice, because the moment I revisited The Adderall Diaries (intending only to select quotes for this review) I immediately started reading the book again."The Boston Globe

"Brilliant, memorable prose . . . an unforgettable read."Foreword

"It's difficult to sum up Stephen Elliott's new memoir, The Adderall Diaries. In part, this is because the book takes on so much — it is by turns a coming-of-age story about Elliott's troubled childhood, an exploration of the author's complicated relationship with his father (who may or may not have been a murderer), an addiction story, and a true-crime account of the murder of a woman named Nina Reiser. It's got drugs, violence, suicide, sadomasochistic sex, and a cast of characters so skewed that some of them would be implausible if they weren't real people. Complicating things further, the book isn't really about any of these things. It's about itself. Or, rather, it's about Elliott's struggle to use the raw material of Reiser's murder to get at his own personal demons. It's easy to imagine the whole project spiraling into a self-indulgent postmodern mess. And if the execution had been anything less than brilliant, that probably would have happened. But it didn't. Instead, Elliott has written a harrowing, honest, and—yes—brilliant memoir . . . More than any other genre, memoir allows a writer to explore the way people self-mythologize. The way they 'arrange (their) experience to highlight . . . successes and excuse . . . failures.' Elliott, his father, Sean, and Hans all delude themselves one way or another. The Adderall Diaries brings this into a stark relief without imposing a single, absolute truth on everything. Elliott insists, 'To write about oneself honestly one has to admit a certain inconsistency and randomness that would never be tolerated in even the best of novels.' He manages to capture that inconsistency and randomness without ever losing focus. It's a remarkable achievement. While some may shy away from its gritty subject matter, the book is never salacious or pornographic. Instead it feels lived-in and sincere, the way only the very best memoirs can."—Guy Cunningham, Bookslut

"If you followed the 2008 trial of Hans Reiser, the Oakland software guru who murdered his Russian wife, you might have been struck by Reisers sense of victimhood—he really seemed to believe that he was the one whod been wronged. San Francisco writer Stephen Elliott gets into Reisers head in this fearless memoir/true-crime hybrid, but its only partly about the homicidal programmer. Elliott is most interested in the stories we construct to govern our lives—' how we order and interpret what we believe to be true,' as he puts it—and what happens when those stories break down, as Reisers nerdy alpha-dog self-image did when his wife left him, with disastrous consequences. Elliott examines his own life in sharp vignettes that ping from Chicago group homes to San Fernando Valley porn shoots to dot-com-era San Francisco. He scours his troubled past—drugs, homelessness, a horrific family life—for clues to his calmer but still troubled present, which includes bouts of depression, Adderall addiction, and a toxic relationship with his abusive father, who may or may not have killed someone himself. People are mysteries, though, and Elliott (thankfully) doesnt offer up the certainties of most true-crime lit, even to explain his own actions. 'How little we know about ourselves,' he writes, but he deserves kudos for this skillful attempt at making sense of his own history. (A)"—Chris Smith, San Francisco magazine "You don't just read The Adderall Diaries; you fall right into them. You read as if you are a few words behind the writer, trying to catch up, to find out what happens, to yell at him that he's doing a great job. And he is. It's a brilliant book."—Roddy Doyle

"The Adderall Diaries is a startling and original concoction, an irresistible melding of reportage and memoir and reconstruction. This is Stephen Elliott's best book, perfectly suited to his gifts as a seeker, as a storyteller, as a poet of wounds, unwelcome and otherwise."—Sam Lipsyte

"The Adderall Diaries is phenomenal. With jittery finesse and a reformed tweaker's eye for detail, Stephen Elliott captures the terrifying, hilarious, heart-strangling reality of a life whose scorched-earth physical and psycho-emotional dimensions no one could have invented—they absolutely had to be lived. By all rights, the author should either be dead or chewing his fingers in a bus station. Instead, he may well have written the memoir of an entire generation."—Jerry Stahl

"I felt like a voyeur reading Stephen Elliott's memoir—what is shocking and unbearable to most of us is commonplace to him. Although a murder trial provides the structure for this book, it is really about the strangeness of life, about things that don't make sense and never will, about lessons that don't get learned, and ultimately about what we can and can't know about ourselves and others. Reading The Adderall Diaries is like taking a step toward the edge of a cliff so you can peer down and imagine what it might be like to slip and fall. Normally we shudder and step back. Stephen Elliott jumps, and his harrowing, riveting memoir convinces you to follow him vicariously."—Amy Tan

"The Adderall Diaries begins like the ocean, seemingly able to take in everything—prize fights to Paris Hilton—until the ocean forms into a river, making its way through unmapped territories—a murder, an absent father—and finally this river is distilled into one precious teardrop. Stephen Elliott is one of those 'people who keep searching when everything is dark'—I don't know a more hauntingly fearless writer, and this is an immediate, visceral, and ultimately beautiful book."—Nick Flynn

"A refined, beautiful work of art . . . deserves a place on the shelf next to such classics of uninhibited American introspection as On the Road and A Fan's Notes."Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

About the Author

Stephen Elliott is the author of seven books including Happy Baby, a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award as well as a best book of 2004 in Salon.com, Newsday, Chicago New City, the Journal News, and The Village Voice. In addition to writing fiction he frequently writes on politics. In 2004 he wrote Looking Forward To It, about the quest for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Elliott's writing has been featured in Esquire, the New York Times, GQ, Best American Non-Required Reading 2005 and 2007, Best American Erotica, and Best Sex Writing 2006. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and is a member of the San Francisco Writer's Grotto. He is the editor of The Rumpus.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

James Taone, November 18, 2013 (view all comments by James Taone)
I really enjoyed this book. It's an odd weaving through true crime and memoir. Great though. It made me a little depressed, I think. It definitely made me want to do drugs.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
mattyaneo, March 24, 2010 (view all comments by mattyaneo)
A brilliant novel, if you're looking for something to read kill the idea of any other read and choose this one
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(8 of 12 readers found this comment helpful)
Neil Elliott, May 28, 2009 (view all comments by Neil Elliott)
Great Read From Bestselling Author

The author is one of the great writers of our times, and his 12 books have sold millions of copies around the world. In times to come, people will wonder that such a man existed in our age. He has been called, "a combination of Francois Villon, James T. Farrell, Maxim Gorky, Victor Hugo, and Dosteovski--on their best days!" And both the New York Times and an editor at Vanity Fair called his last novel, HAPPY BABY, "...the most beautiful and intelligent book ever written..." His stepmother called him "strong, dependable, and giving" when he was 13, and you can see those qualities in his work, as well as a gift for irony.

His great uncle Simon Frug was the last Natonal Jewish Poet of Russia under the Tsar Nicholas, but he grew up in an upper middle class home, in the wealthy Chicago enclave of Indian Boundary. At 14 he larked about the streets with his pals, doing drugs and alcohol. His father protected him from drug dealers who threatened him. At 15 his father let him live in a Jewish Childrens Bureau group home near their house with 6 other teens. He finished college without debt thanks to his dad, who also gave him free apartments, paid for graduate school, and paid his gambling debts. Then he started writing books in which he claimed to be an oppressed sad person. In these books he is always telling us his dad is a bad person, but is not very precise about why.

Nonetheless he writes beautifully, out of a deep compulsion that has nothing to do with free will. As Isaac Bashevis Singer once said, "Of course I believe in free will--I have no choice!"

But with sweetness, goodness, and genius like this, who cares what's born from compulsion and what isn't?


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(26 of 55 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781555975388
Subtitle:
A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder
Author:
Elliott, Stephen
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Subject:
General
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Authors, American - 21st century
Subject:
Elliott, Stephen
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20100928
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
7.64 x 5.72 x 0.89 in

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Related Subjects

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The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$23.00 In Stock
Product details 192 pages Graywolf Press - English 9781555975388 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "As a writer stymied by past success, writers block, substance abuse, relationship problems and a serious set of father issues, Elliott's cracked-out chronicle of a bizarre murder trial amounts to less than the sum of its parts. Not long into the 2007 trial of programmer Hans Reiser, accused of murdering his wife, the defendant's friend Sean Sturgeon obliquely confessed to several murders (though not the murder of Reiser's wife). Elliott, caught up in the film-ready twist and his tenuous connection to Sturgeon (they share a BDSM social circle), makes a gonzo record of the proceedings. The result is a scattered, self-indulgent romp through the mind of a depressive narcissist obsessed with his insecurities and childhood traumas. Elliott is an undeniably good writer, but his voice has more to do with amphetamines than the author himself or the trial at hand. Elliott's frustration with himself is contagious; any readers expecting a true crime will be bewildered, and those familiar with Elliott (My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up) will find more (or less) of the same." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "An endlessly fascinating memoir by a profoundly courageous writer....[A] refined, beautiful work of art....Deserves a place on the shelf next to such classics of uninhibited American introspection as On the Road and A Fan's Notes."
"Review" by , "Elliott has written a harrowing, honest, and — yes — brilliant memoir....It's a remarkable achievement. While some may shy away from its gritty subject matter, the book is never salacious or pornographic. Instead it feels lived-in and sincere, the way only the very best memoirs can."
"Review" by , "Brilliant, memorable prose...an unforgettable read."
"Review" by , "You don't just read The Adderall Diaries; you fall right into them. You read as if you are a few words behind the writer, trying to catch up, to find out what happens, to yell at him that he's doing a great job. And he is. It's a brilliant book."
"Review" by , "The Adderall Diaries is a startling and original concoction, an irresistible melding of reportage and memoir and reconstruction. This is Stephen Elliott's best book, perfectly suited to his gifts as a seeker, as a storyteller, as a poet of wounds, unwelcome and otherwise."
"Review" by , "The Adderall Diaries is phenomenal. With jittery finesse and a reformed tweaker's eye for detail, Stephen Elliott captures the terrifying, hilarious, heart-strangling reality of a life whose scorched-earth physical and psycho-emotional dimensions no one could have invented — they absolutely had to be lived. By all rights, the author should either be dead or chewing his fingers in a bus station. Instead, he may well have written the memoir of an entire generation."
"Review" by , "I felt like a voyeur reading Stephen Elliott's memoir — what is shocking and unbearable to most of us is commonplace to him. Although a murder trial provides the structure for this book, it is really about the strangeness of life, about things that don't make sense and never will, about lessons that don't get learned, and ultimately about what we can and can't know about ourselves and others. Reading The Adderall Diaries is like taking a step toward the edge of a cliff so you can peer down and imagine what it might be like to slip and fall. Normally we shudder and step back. Stephen Elliott jumps, and his harrowing, riveting memoir convinces you to follow him vicariously."
"Review" by , "The Adderall Diaries begins like the ocean, seemingly able to take in everything — prize fights to Paris Hilton — until the ocean forms into a river, making its way through unmapped territories — a murder, an absent father — and finally this river is distilled into one precious teardrop. Stephen Elliott is one of those 'people who keep searching when everything is dark' — I don't know a more hauntingly fearless writer, and this is an immediate, visceral, and ultimately beautiful book."
"Review" by , "[A]mbitious and emotional and brilliantly orchestrated, an embroidery of memoir and true-crime reportage that's so stunning that I can’t imagine Elliott writing about the above-mentioned murder case without also confronting his past (or vice versa)....Each strand is insightful and lucid; woven together, they form a thriving work of art."
"Review" by , "Stephen Elliott's superb, sprawling meta-memoir might be just what the genre needs to salvage it from the legacy of James Frey....Elliott's style is unadorned and often achieves a quiet poetry..."
"Synopsis" by , Set against the backdrop of a nation at war, The Adderall Diaries is at once a gripping account of a murder trial and a scorching investigation of the self. Elliott presents a riveting journey through a landscape of false confessions, self-medication, and torturous sex.
"Synopsis" by ,
In this groundbreaking memoir, Stephen Elliott pursues parallel investigations: a gripping account of a notorious San Francisco murder trial, and an electric exploration of the self. Destined to be a classic, The Adderall Diaries was described by The Washington Post as “a serious literary work designed to make you see the world as youve never quite seen it before.”
"Synopsis" by ,
In the spring of 2007, a brilliant computer programmer named Hans Reiser stands accused of murdering his estranged wife, Nina. Despite a mountain of circumstantial evidence against him, he proclaims his innocence. The case takes a twist when Ninas former lover, and Hanss former best friend, Sean Sturgeon, confesses to eight unrelated murders that no one has ever heard of.

At the time of Sturgeons confession, Stephen Elliot is paralyzed by writers block, in the thrall of Adderall dependency, and despondent over the state of his romantic life. But he is fascinated by Sturgeon, whose path he has often crossed in San Franciscos underground S&M scene. What kind of person, he wonders, confesses to a murder he likely did not commit? One answer is, perhaps, a man like Elliotts own father.

So begins a riveting journey through a neon landscape of false confessions, self-medication, and torturous sex. Set against the backdrop of a nation at war, in the declining years of the Silicon Valley tech boom and the dawn of Paris Hiltons celebrity, The Adderall Diaries is at once a gripping account of a murder trial and a scorching investigation of the self. Tough, tender, and unflinchingly honest, it is the breakout book by one of the most daring writers of his generation.

Stephen Elliott is the author of seven books including Happy Baby, a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award and a best book of 2004 in Salon.com, Newsday, Chicago New City, The Journal News, and The Village Voice. In addition to writing fiction, he frequently writes on politics. Elliott's writing has been featured in Esquire, the New York Times, GQ, Best American Non-Required Reading 2005 and 2007, Best American Erotica, and Best Sex Writing 2006. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and is a member of the San Francisco Writer's Grotto. He is the editor of The Rumpus.

In the spring of 2007, a brilliant computer programmer named Hans Reiser stands accused of murdering his estranged wife, Nina. Despite a mountain of circumstantial evidence against him, he proclaims his innocence. The case takes a twist when Nina's former lover, and Hans's former best friend, Sean Sturgeon, confesses to eight unrelated murders that no one has ever heard of.
 
At the time of Sturgeon's confession, Stephen Elliot is paralyzed by writer's block, in the thrall of Adderall dependency, and despondent over the state of his romantic life. But he is fascinated by Sturgeon, whose path he has often crossed in San Francisco's underground S&M scene. What kind of person, he wonders, confesses to a murder he likely did not commit? One answer is, perhaps, a man like Elliotts own father.
 
So begins a riveting journey through a neon landscape of false confessions, self-medication, and torturous sex. Set against the backdrop of a nation at war, in the declining years of the Silicon Valley tech boom and the dawn of Paris Hilton's celebrity, The Adderall Diaries is at once a gripping account of a murder trial and a scorching investigation of the self. Tough, tender, and unflinchingly honest, it is the breakout book by one of the most daring writers of his generation.
"Elliott ruthlessly flays the truth past the point of tears, to heights of consciousness achievable only through the masochistic act of writing. Elliott may be writing under the influence, but it's the influence of genius."Vanity Fair

"The Adderall Diaries should be a lurid work. Among its unsettling elements are the trial of a computer programmer suspected of murdering his Russian wife and a confession by the programmer's best friend that he killed several people. The author's father claimed to have shot a man—something Elliott couldn't corroborate or disprove. The memoir also covers memories of a wretched childhood, drug use and Elliott's addiction to masochistic sex. Yet this is no potboiler, but a serious literary work designed to make you see the world as you've never quite seen it before. The intensity of Elliott's often beautiful prose evokes the effects of Adderall, the attention deficit medication. Yet the book shows a concern for order: Each chapter begins with a summary of what's to follow, reminiscent of the headings in Victorian novels, and there are even several footnotes. Nonetheless, beneath these devices throbs an all-pervasive sense of the elusiveness of truth. Memories deceive, and almost everyone in this book—including the author—is a fantasist."—Juliet Wittman, The Washington Post

"In a time where memoir writers are scrutinized for their authenticity and truthfulness (or lack thereof), Elliott admits that The Adderall Diaries is true enough—at least as true as he remembers it. True enough, anyway, to provide for an intriguing, entertaining read."—Kevin Allen, The Chicago Sun-Times

"Stephen Elliott's superb, sprawling meta-memoir might be just what the genre needs to salvage it from the legacy of James Frey."Time Out New York

"If you're the type of reader who always wants to know what to expect, Stephen Elliott isn't your guy. But if you can take your literary sharp turns without hitting the brakes—or knowing exactly where you'll end up—you won't find a more provocative, masterful, thrilling ride than this."—Meredith Maran, San Francisco Chronicle

"Nakedly manipulative and all but impossible to resist . . . [The first sentence] sucked me in twice, because the moment I revisited The Adderall Diaries (intending only to select quotes for this review) I immediately started reading the book again."The Boston Globe

"Brilliant, memorable prose . . . an unforgettable read."Foreword

"It's difficult to sum up Stephen Elliott's new memoir, The Adderall Diaries. In part, this is because the book takes on so much — it is by turns a coming-of-age story about Elliott's troubled childhood, an exploration of the author's complicated relationship with his father (who may or may not have been a murderer), an addiction story, and a true-crime account of the murder of a woman named Nina Reiser. It's got drugs, violence, suicide, sadomasochistic sex, and a cast of characters so skewed that some of them would be implausible if they weren't real people. Complicating things further, the book isn't really about any of these things. It's about itself. Or, rather, it's about Elliott's struggle to use the raw material of Reiser's murder to get at his own personal demons. It's easy to imagine the whole project spiraling into a self-indulgent postmodern mess. And if the execution had been anything less than brilliant, that probably would have happened. But it didn't. Instead, Elliott has written a harrowing, honest, and—yes—brilliant memoir . . . More than any other genre, memoir allows a writer to explore the way people self-mythologize. The way they 'arrange (their) experience to highlight . . . successes and excuse . . . failures.' Elliott, his father, Sean, and Hans all delude themselves one way or another. The Adderall Diaries brings this into a stark relief without imposing a single, absolute truth on everything. Elliott insists, 'To write about oneself honestly one has to admit a certain inconsistency and randomness that would never be tolerated in even the best of novels.' He manages to capture that inconsistency and randomness without ever losing focus. It's a remarkable achievement. While some may shy away from its gritty subject matter, the book is never salacious or pornographic. Instead it feels lived-in and sincere, the way only the very best memoirs can."—Guy Cunningham, Bookslut

"If you followed the 2008 trial of Hans Reiser, the Oakland software guru who murdered his Russian wife, you might have been struck by Reisers sense of victimhood—he really seemed to believe that he was the one whod been wronged. San Francisco writer Stephen Elliott gets into Reisers head in this fearless memoir/true-crime hybrid, but its only partly about the homicidal programmer. Elliott is most interested in the stories we construct to govern our lives—' how we order and interpret what we believe to be true,' as he puts it—and what happens when those stories break down, as Reisers nerdy alpha-dog self-image did when his wife left him, with disastrous consequences. Elliott examines his own life in sharp vignettes that ping from Chicago group homes to San Fernando Valley porn shoots to dot-com-era San Francisco. He scours his troubled past—drugs, homelessness, a horrific family life—for clues to his calmer but still troubled present, which includes bouts of depression, Adderall addiction, and a toxic relationship with his abusive father, who may or may not have killed someone himself. People are mysteries, though, and Elliott (thankfully) doesnt offer up the certainties of most true-crime lit, even to explain his own actions. 'How little we know about ourselves,' he writes, but he deserves kudos for this skillful attempt at making sense of his own history. (A)"—Chris Smith, San Francisco magazine "You don't just read The Adderall Diaries; you fall right into them. You read as if you are a few words behind the writer, trying to catch up, to find out what happens, to yell at him that he's doing a great job. And he is. It's a brilliant book."—Roddy Doyle

"The Adderall Diaries is a startling and original concoction, an irresistible melding of reportage and memoir and reconstruction. This is Stephen Elliott's best book, perfectly suited to his gifts as a seeker, as a storyteller, as a poet of wounds, unwelcome and otherwise."—Sam Lipsyte

"The Adderall Diaries is phenomenal. With jittery finesse and a reformed tweaker's eye for detail, Stephen Elliott captures the terrifying, hilarious, heart-strangling reality of a life whose scorched-earth physical and psycho-emotional dimensions no one could have invented—they absolutely had to be lived. By all rights, the author should either be dead or chewing his fingers in a bus station. Instead, he may well have written the memoir of an entire generation."—Jerry Stahl

"I felt like a voyeur reading Stephen Elliott's memoir—what is shocking and unbearable to most of us is commonplace to him. Although a murder trial provides the structure for this book, it is really about the strangeness of life, about things that don't make sense and never will, about lessons that don't get learned, and ultimately about what we can and can't know about ourselves and others. Reading The Adderall Diaries is like taking a step toward the edge of a cliff so you can peer down and imagine what it might be like to slip and fall. Normally we shudder and step back. Stephen Elliott jumps, and his harrowing, riveting memoir convinces you to follow him vicariously."—Amy Tan

"The Adderall Diaries begins like the ocean, seemingly able to take in everything—prize fights to Paris Hilton—until the ocean forms into a river, making its way through unmapped territories—a murder, an absent father—and finally this river is distilled into one precious teardrop. Stephen Elliott is one of those 'people who keep searching when everything is dark'—I don't know a more hauntingly fearless writer, and this is an immediate, visceral, and ultimately beautiful book."—Nick Flynn

"A refined, beautiful work of art . . . deserves a place on the shelf next to such classics of uninhibited American introspection as On the Road and A Fan's Notes."Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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