Troy Patterson
February 10, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Chasing America

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Dennis Watlington
publisher
Thomas Dunne Books
genre
Nonfiction
We gave it a C+

This is perhaps not the most opportune moment to publish a memoir chronicling one’s heavy drugging and amazing recovery. Yet the general torpor of Chasing America actually helps its credibility: Any story this sluggish must be true. The author — born in Harlem and, in the ’60s, a rare black student at some fancy prep schools — was hooked on heroin at 13, kicked the habit, picked up crack a few decades later, then quit that, turning the latter experience into a Vanity Fair article, then an HBO script. Dennis Watlington intends to make a weighty statement on race, class, and popular music — hard to swallow from someone who contends that Frank Sinatra made contributions to the civil rights movement ”up there with those of the courageous folks integrating lunch counters.”

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