“Cocaine’s Son” isn’t your usual memoir about addiction. Although author Dave Itzkoff begins by writing about his upbringing by a cocaine-addicted father, “Cocaine’s Son” doesn’t have the typical rock bottoms and epic highs familiar to most books of the genre (in fact, Itzkoff, only 34, went to Princeton and is now a writer for the New York Times). To distance it even further from the pack, Itzkoff and his father currently enjoy a great relationship with one another.
“I understand that there’s a genre of addiction memoir. But my hope is that this transcends it in some way,” Itzkoff says, regarding how his book differs from such addiction classics like Caroline Knapp’s “Drinking: A Love Story” or “Dry” by Augusten Burroughs. “The addiction gives me a jumping off point, a dimension that readers can relate to. I felt like if I were open about that aspect of my life, it would give me the breathing room to tell the whole story I wanted to tell.”
So although cocaine does have a role, it’s not a starring one — which, in turn, makes “Cocaine’s Son” more of a look at a relationship between a father and a son than anything else.
In fact, Itzkoff didn’t even think the act of writing about his past as a therapeutic exercise. “In a way,” he answered when asked if putting pen to paper was helpful. “It certainly has given me the opportunity to think about things and reflect on events and where they all fit together. But we’re both living our lives and we’re not suffering from a terrible damage that still needs to be repaired or that we need to overcome somehow.”