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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
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Start, Medium Middle, Slow Finish May 13 2004
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 money, man takes too much drugs, man learns to take too much drugs and still make money, man gets tired of taking too much drugs and making too much money, man moves to Arizona.
And like many drug memoirs the end is grueling and slow. Near the end of the book it seems the writer is thinking more about his paycheck than his work. But I would definetly buy this book just for the first 80%.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Titles are for losers. May 2 2004
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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5.0 out of 5 stars As the Junkie Turns... April 2 2004
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. I can't write an e-mail if I haven't had enough sleep and somehow this guy was able to write tv shows nodding off on heroin. His honesty will pull you in. If you want to know the truth about what it's really like to make it in Hollywood, read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great book - written very well Dec 11 2003
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.
Jerry has a great sense of humor in his writing. He is self effacing while sharing these intimate details of his life. He is humorous, not jokey and writes extremely well.
I was pulled into his tale and really enjoyed every minute of it even though this is a horror story of sorts. You will not be able to put it down.
Avoid the movie they made of this book starring Ben Stiller. The movie is HORRIBLE and not at all like the book.
I look forward to Jerry's other books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Seductiveness of Wit in Brilliant Memoir March 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 inadequacy with "success" and in the process engages in a Faustian Bargain, writing "Alph" and other inane television comedies, resulting in his guilt, his defensive, sarcastic armor, his self-loathing, and his need to medicate that self-disgust with drugs.
One of the memoir's major themes is the seductiveness of wit and its accompaniment, brilliant language, a double-edged sword that razzle-dazzles us but is also an instrument of cynicism and self-flagellation, which screams for self-medication. We sympathize with brilliant wits like Jerry Stahl who tend to have addictive personalities because they are constantly seeking some kind of medication to soothe the soul's inevitable ache, the result of their razor-edged wit turning most harshly against themselves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Smack in the City of Angels May 3 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
How many books about junkiehood are there out there? Let us count... Many, many, many, and I've read a majority of them. However this one was different, as it seemed to speak directly to me. That may sound slightly self-centered, but as someone who has been a heroin addict in LA, I can tell you, this book is right on the money. The glitzy, seemingly mindless Hollywood types, the dope-slinging zombies down at Sixth and Alvarado, all of it- it's all here. When I feel the need to remind myself that someone out there truly understands me, I read this book. And I most definitely reccomend it to anyone, past or present junkie or not. Those who have lived through similar experiences will nod and smile in recognition, those who haven't will hopefully be enlightened.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too much pain. April 14 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
While no one would argue that Mr. Stahl is a very talented writer, I just could not get through this book. The first half was pretty good, then he went on and on with his addictions (he has a lot of those!) and even describing the "taste" he would get for his drugs. While this is all well and good, I wanted to hear more about the rest of his life as well. I think "99 Martinis" deals with the writer-angst better and that "The Lost Weekend" is a better addiction-angst novel.
It's not a bad book at all. It's just a little overbearing.
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Most recent customer reviews
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 Droll
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... Read more
Published on June 9 2000 by buddyhead
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 19 2000 by Kitten
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing brought down by tired subject matter
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... Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2000 by T. Martin
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