Last night in front of the Barnes and Noble on Union Square, a crowd of curiosity seekers gawked at two winos anxiously trying to rouse a grizzled white man in his late 50s from pill and booze-induced unconsciousness. It’s the type of ignominy that Times reporter and author David Carr barely escaped.
In a sleek loft space across the street, the media set was feting the release of the paperback version of The Night of the Gun, Carr’s memoir chronicling how he went from a coke addicted, alcoholic father to high-flying media correspondent and suburban dad.
Wearing an expensive, baggy blue suit, and sporting 5 o’clock shadow, Carr chatted with colleagues and neighbors from Montclair, New Jersey where he lives with his family. Jill Rooney-Carr, his bubbly blonde wife, carried around trays of pork buns, saying, “I’ve got hot buns.”
Partygoers might have been lulled into forgetting about the violence and vice inside The Night of the Gun, if it wasn’t for pictures of Carr in his past life—bloated and shirtless in one instance—being projected above the buffet table. Rooney-Carr told me it’s hard for her to imagine that guy because, “I didn’t meet him when he was a bag of snakes.”
Even in his darkest days of addiction, Carr managed to retain a gig at the Minnesota alt-weekly Twin Cities Reader, and he always swung for the fences, pitching The New Yorker and Esquire. Despite his fervent belief in his own star though, he told me, in his gravelly whisper, “I was kind of surprised at getting to the Times.” He quickly proved friends—who worried that the book would amount to career suicide at the Gray Lady—wrong. Repeating the last word for emphasis, Carr said: “it hasn’t created a bump. Not a bump.”
Not to say tongues weren’t wagging. With a wry chuckle, Carr said, “I’m sure there were plenty of whispers,” adding, “I don’t know who my enemies are because they hide in the bushes.”
No matter how successful Carr is at the Times, he’ll never be your typical member of the media elite, a fact that he seems to revel in. If Carr did ever forget where he came from, people will remind him. Night of the Gun’s publisher, David Rosenthal, one of biggest wigs at Simon and Schuster, got up to speak. Before raising a glass to Carr, he thanked the owner of the space, joking, “Everyone knows junkies will steal anything that’s not nailed down.”
Carr squinted like Clint Eastwood, and strode up to state his piece. Explaining why there was never a party for the hardcover he growled: “I didn’t need any fucking Manhattan media party. I see those people all the time and I hate them.”