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Permanent Midnight: A Memoir [Paperback]

Jerry Stahl
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 2005
The author recounts his battle with heroin addiction while he was a successful Hollywood writer for Moonlighting and other hit television shows and his successful fight to beat his addiction and fulfill his role as husband and father. National ad/promo.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Publishers Weekly

This unabashedly lurid and often highly entertaining book traces Stahl's rise from Hustler staffer, to highly paid prime-time television writer, to his breakneck devolution into self-loathing junkie father and "author of nothing but bad checks." While stumbling cheerily toward rock bottom, he somehow managed to keep landing such plum assignments as writing for Moonlighting and thirtysomething. But fans hoping for backstage gossip about their favorite shows will be disappointed. For all the rivers of every conceivable narcotic flowing here, there is surprisingly little inside dope. "The truth: This book... is less... an exercise in recall than exorcism." Stahl's manic wise-cracking never wavers, whether he is describing his remote and suicidal parents or a grandmotherly babysitter who forced him to lick Jujubes off her nipples every day after school. While Stahl managed to survive his fall with enough "real funny" intact to provoke some grossed-out laughs, what seems meant as a hilarious memoir of his drug-besotted depression too often becomes just a depressing memoir of his hilarity. A study in self-absorption.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

It's not pretty and it's not "professional," but it's Jerry Stahl's true story of his life as a writer. Beginning his career as a pornographer for Beaver magazine, Stahl later wrote fake sex letters for Penthouse and articles for Hustler before moving on to write scripts for such TV hits as Moonlighting, Thirtysomething, and Alf, jobs that put almost $7,000 a week in his bank account. This is also the story of Stahl's addictions to smack, coke, crack, Dilaudids--you name it. Moving between $100 L.A. lunches and meetings with Cybill Shepherd to dangerous scores in the worst parts of the city, Stahl managed to lose his family, his house, his screenwriting opportunity for the second season of Twin Peaks, and nearly his life. Permanent Midnight is not for people with delicate sensibilities or any other low thresholds for truth. Stahl's autobiography provides no glitzy Hollywood confessional with raised letters on the dust jacket, and it's not a self-help book on recovery. Instead, it explores, with brutal honesty and humor, the author's struggle between the nightmares of addiction and the nightmares of sobriety. Permanent Midnight is one of the most harrowing and toughest accounts ever written in this century about what it means to be a junkie in America, making Burroughs look dated and Kerouac appear as the nose-thumbing adolescent he was. Recommended for the true elite: those who can tell themselves a joke while slitting their own throats. Greg Burkman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I used to think that there was no way out, that I would just have to kill myself. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Titles are for losers. May 2 2004
Format:Paperback
This book was PHENOMENAL! I haven't read a book this good since I picked up American Psycho, and that was probably about a year ago. (American Psycho is better, though. Nothing beats Patrick Bateman, ever.) I was addicted to this book. Jerry Stahl made me feel his confusion and his pain. It was as if he jammed the neelde into MY vein, and we rode the horse in Chinatown together.
I feel like I know Jerry Stahl now. I feel like we're really good friends. I think I want to give him a phone call and talk about Mother's Day. And then I think I want to go to the park, giggle with him, and point at geese. Oh, the fun! Like, Oh my GAWD Jerry! Let's go to tha Mall! Haha, I really need sleep.
This was such a good book. It will get under your skin. You will NOT be able to put it down. But let's not put the cart before the horse, or we'll shoot ourself in the foot... Don't see the movie! As much as I love Ben Stiller (a guilty pleasure?), this was just not good. And I thought Mr. Stiller did a wonderful job of acting like a junky. I kept thinking, "this can't be the guy that keeps shooting horses in his recent movies..." Maybe he really liked doing this movie... maybe they're all strange, cryptic references to Permanent Midnight: The Movie.
Anyway, I'll stop rambling. Read this book! Read it and love it, beeyotch.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Droll June 9 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was my favorite of a long string of [auto]biographies I have read about (at least in large part) substance abuse (including Basketball Diaries, Blow, Disco Bloodbath, Long time Gone (about David Crosby), A Drinking Life, etc.). I enjoyed Stahl's writing style a great deal- he's got a dry wit, and writes a droll account. However, his "hipness" did leave me in the dust a few times. He facilely rattles off names and movies by way of analogy and metaphor, and I am either too young or watch too few movies to understand them all. The book is through and through Hollywood in its groovy tone; even when Stahl inveighs against Tinseltown's excesses and characters, you can see that he is a part of the scene (e.g., he was killing himself with smack yet was a staunch vegetarian and long distance runner). Still, the book is hilarious, especially if you like things viewed through a sardonic lens.
Permanent Midnight is as objectively recounted as I suppose can be, and while Stahl doesn't seem to ask the reader for pity, I felt he tried to paint his environment as bleakly as possible, so as to lead one to think his drug use was inevitable. Truth be told, Stahl didn't seem to have it so bad, and fell blindly into a series of enviable career positions that probably only led to drugs because of the capital it gave him with which to feed his habit.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing brought down by tired subject matter Feb. 20 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As a reader, the first thing I found myself asking of Jerry Stahl's "Permanent Midnight" was: Do we really need another story about a guy who gets on drugs, makes a mess of his life, sees the error of his ways and makes a turnaround? Probably not. This idea has been done over and over (and over and over) already. It's cliche and we could easily get the same ideas from any number of other books.
The interesting thing here is that from page one Stahl seems conscious of this and, mercifully, he chooses not to make his drug addiction the focus of the entire book. To Stahl's credit, the drug-related material is handled well, but the parts of "Permanent Midnight" that really shine are those in which Stahl deals with his writing career. Stahl depicts himself as a writer who wanted to do serious literary work, but found himself writing schlock for television and pornography magazines. Anyone who has woken up one morning and realized their life hadn't taken the turns they thought or hoped it should will identify.
In addition to the often tired subject matter, Stahl's conclusion left me unsatisfied. Stahl attempts to suggest a kind of figurative redemption for himself at the end of the story, but by the time we reach the end Stahl has built up the protagonist (himself) as such a complete loser that it's hard to see his ending as plausible. Structurally, it seems Stahl could have put the story together better so that his ending resonated stronger with the reader, although some readers may find this a minor complaint.
Ultimately, I couldn't help feeling that this story would have worked better as a work of fiction than a memoir.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best memoir I have ever read! Dec 27 1999
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this book over four years ago, and still think about it often. I love to read well-written memoirs, and this is the best-written one I have ever read. Stahl is incredibly funny, and articulate, yet the description of his devastating life with drugs is nothing short of amazing. If you know little about drug addiction, this book will educate you like no book can. This blows the stereotype on junkies - here is a White, professional , well-educated (Columbia Univ. grad), whose world explodes over and over again due to his heroin and cocaine use. There were times reading this book where I nodded my head and said "he can't possibly survive this addiction, it's so deep-seated; it's his whole life". Yet he manages to. I only wish he would write a sequel. I have not had a drug problem myself, yet I work with people who are addicts, and this book educated me better than anything else has about their behavior, and their world. Stahl has done what no one else has - He has shown us the life he has lead, and he leaves no stone unturned, even if it reveals some horrifying things about him (like taking his infant daughter along literally to a den of hell in order to buy drugs). Don't pass this book up.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Start, Medium Middle, Slow Finish
Like many drug memoirs, Permanent Midnight starts off with a great premise: man is young, man is poor, man meets drugs, man falls in love with drugs, man gets sudden rush of... Read more
Published on May 13 2004 by N. Siefers
5.0 out of 5 stars As the Junkie Turns...
Some of us stop off at McDonald's for an egg mcmuffin and coffee on the way to work. Not Jerry, his is an assortment of chemicals that make a big mac look healthy. Read more
Published on April 1 2004 by "stephpeskie"
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great book - written very well
This book is about a subject that I did not really want to read about (drug addiction) but the way it was told made me love this book. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2003 by E. Karas
5.0 out of 5 stars The Seductiveness of Wit in Brilliant Memoir
Permanent Midnight is a deservedly praised masterpiece of a memoir, the chronicle of a man with enormous imagination and writing talent who is hell-bent on overcoming his sense of... Read more
Published on March 21 2003 by M. JEFFREY MCMAHON
5.0 out of 5 stars Smack in the City of Angels
How many books about junkiehood are there out there? Let us count... Many, many, many, and I've read a majority of them. Read more
Published on May 3 2002 by Emily Whiteman
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much pain.
While no one would argue that Mr. Stahl is a very talented writer, I just could not get through this book. Read more
Published on April 14 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars A little too narcissistic for my tatstes
First let me say that Jerry Stahl is a good writer. This book does not disappoint because Stahl can't get his point across clearly or in an entertaining way. Read more
Published on March 13 2002 by P. Zrimsek
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast, Dangerous, Sad and True:Addiction and the Human Spirit
This book reads as a wonderful and contemporary account of Hollywood, television, drugs, and most importantly, the life and drama of one lonely man. Read more
Published on June 23 2000 by Azen
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping But Ultimately Unsatisfying
For those who like no holds barred non-fiction about sub-cultures this book will will be hard to put down. Read more
Published on May 26 2000 by "brianofwestwood"
4.0 out of 5 stars Jerry Stahl gets honest where most do not...
Not only is this book graphic, it kept me on the edge of my seat wanting this Heroin addict-Pill popping guy on a death wish to wake up and see his death of an existance! Read more
Published on April 18 2000 by Kitten
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