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Book Review: The Heroin Diaries

heroindiaries.jpgEven in the depths of heroin addiction, Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx was able to pen his memoirs. Now, his new book The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star (Simon & Schuster 2007) openly tells the story of one very messy past. Sixx says he hopes the retelling of his addiction helps others.

The book begins in December 1986. Motley Crue is working on Girls, Girls, Girls and Sixx is cracked out of his mind 90% of the time. Throughout the book, it's pretty clear Nikki was trying to deal with his family abandonment issues and using the drugs as a catalyst to numb the pain. It's easy to judge while reading the book and it's easy to not feel sorry for a very famous, very rich rockstar. Still, money doesn't fix everything and it some ways only made Sixx go more crazy. Since he was (is) so wealthy, he could buy as many drugs as he wanted. Thinking about the amount of money he injected into his body is both disgusting and pathetic. Earlier this week, Sixx appeared on Fox News Channel and chatted with Greta Van Susteren. During that talk, he said that this is "his year to give back." He'll donate 25% of the proceeds of the book to the Covenant House for troubled youth. I hope 25% comes somewhere close to the amount of cash he gave to dealers between 1986 and 1987.

For me, the most compelling parts of the journals are reading Sixx lie to himself. I would like to believe that the journals are at least 90% true. If that's the case then the crazy, drug-induced ramblings are mostly accurate. Most times after shooting up or chasing the dragon, Sixx would barricade himself inside a walk-in closet with a shotgun, fighting massive paranoia. The drug sent Sixx into major psychosis and he always thought people - mainly the police - were coming to get him.

If you've read The Dirt, then you know the backstage debauchery that is Motley Crue. Some of the stories are just downright disgusting. After reading The Dirt, Tommyland and now the Heroin Diaries, I'm convinced no one in Motley Crue is able to truly love a woman and form a meaningful relationship. Yes, all the original Crue members have kids and I am sure they love them, but this isn't the same sort of love or commitment, now is it? I'd be a hypocrite to say I didn't read the Heroin Diaries with a judgmental eye. Still, I'm not an addict and (thankfully) I've never faced such demons.

With all that said, please believe that the Heroin Diaries is one damn good read. If you're a Motley Cure fan, you'll probably dig the book and all the inside accounts from various important people within the band's inner sanctum. Sixx finally owns up to events that he's lied about in the past, and the tone of the book moves from depressed to hopeful. At 413 pages, it's also a quick read.

A note about the Heroin Diaries soundtrack: the music adds another dimension to the book and I now understand why Sixx opted to release the music first. It gives the listener a sort of premier to the addiction tale without giving away too much. Taken together, the Heroin Diaries book and soundtrack offer a compelling look at a man who was certainly spinning out of control.

Reader Comments (15)

Sounds like a good book, I really want to pick this one up!
September 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenteraXe mAn
Cool review. I am going to save my ramblings for my sight though and not bore you with my take on the mostly fiction piece by my favorite bassist (yeah I said FICTION hahahaha, not ALL of it, but definitely some!)
September 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Lou.
Save the skepticism for this new millenium, twits. It has been said that if you remember the 60's, you weren't there. If you doubt the 80's, you weren't there.
This aint the Oval office, and it sure as Hell aint Milli Vanilli. Open your eyes up. Just because today is a crock of shit doesn't mean it wan't ever told straight up.
Long live the Crue.
September 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMorpheus
Heroin Diaries is a definite read to anyone who has the warped perception that drugs are cool. It is also a great read to anyone who has been touched, more like slapped, by addiction. You don't need to be a fan of Nikki Sixx to find meaning in this book, but if you are you will be amazed at how bad it was while he was generating so much for so many. There is plenty of debauchery,yet there is also so much yearning of "normal". It is astonishing that this man is still alive, much less determined to give back. I was not a fan of Nikki Sixx when I picked up the book-I hardly knew anything about him. After reading this book, I am amazed at how someone lives through this, and is brave enough to put his reputation on the line to help others.

I hope this review will encourage others to pick up this book and be a reminder of the responsibility we have to each other.
November 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commenternot a sixx chick
I'm only halfway through April in the book, but already I am astonished at how honest Sixx is. I really don't think any of it is a lie. In the introduction Sixx says that he has had to fill in some of the missing parts, so maybe those parts are a little off because I'm assuming he doesn't remember every detail of 1987 exactly. I'm also sure he embellished some of the stories to make himself seem more badass, but I do believe it is all based on the truth. I find the book so refreshingly honest. I have read The Dirt, and I have also read Tommyland, and The Heroin Diaries and by far the best of the three. Not only is it more honest and more serious, but it has a purpose. This book has made me never want to touch heroin, let alone inject it into my body. Sixx's goal was to stop people from doing heroin, and to give people who have the addiction hope, and some scary truths, and I feel he has definitely accomplished that. Amazing book so far, I'm excited to finish it.
January 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterloveSixx
This book pretty much inspired me to kick a wicked nasty 3 year painkiller addiction Cold Turkey.

Thanks Nikki
January 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGary B
This book is a waste of time. An obvious attempt to cash in on his fame. He's a common junkie, he did massive amounts of drugs. Big deal! If you want to read about junkies at least read one that can write a decent book. William S. Burroughs.
May 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTony
Your a waste of time you jerk,
July 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike
You gotta read this back. No review or words can describe how friggin' good it is, you'll only know once you've finished it. Took me 3 days to finish it, its so tempting to read on and flip the page. Long live Sixx!
August 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChicks=Trouble
I red this book and it's ok but nothing special.As an ex addict myself(used dope(heroin) and coke)every day for 2 years straight I don't think you can wright a diary,when you on drugs it's ether too hard to concentrate because you are too high or you just don't remember what happened yesterday.
December 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlex
Well i believe Tony and Mike are wrong. This was one of my favorite books, absolutely amazing. I have to say i completely fell in love with him in this book, i wish i was alive during his time. I would have liked to be his friend when he didn't one, he reminds me a lot of myself and some of the people i am close to. Truly a great book.
February 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKayla
I have read this book, as well as the other three (Tommyland by Tommy Lee,& "Dirt" by the boys from Motley Crue.) they are the best read ever, especially 'The Dirt" :) One word of advice though: they are not for the faint hearted!!
May 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermelfromhell
I'm playing devil's advocate here, because I'm mainly asking questions for people to keep in mind. I'm planning on reading the book shortly, now that I've read a number of reviews on the book.

I have a bone to pick with folks who doubt the authenticity of this book because they believe an addict cannot write a journal while in the grip of their haze, or that it's an attempt to capitalize on past glory.

If this were an attempt to make some money on the author's fame, the time to have done so would have been during the band's relative obscurity, earlier this decade. Anytime anyone publishes an autobiographical piece, they run the risk of people accusing them of such behavior. I for one would rather the man publish a piece looking back on a dark period of his life than for a biographer to write a book about a man who died too soon. Those works are never "happy endings", and you're always left to wonder what the deceased could have accomplished. From what I understand, the book does not paint its author in the best light from those days, and in fact it is NS at his worst.

One could, I suppose consider this book "bragging" about one's own misery, a self-indulgent airing of one's dirty laundry. Yet, I would disagree, at least in theory, having read an excerpt of the book. It's said that for addiction--and for any mental health issue, really--that one must not keep it under wraps in isolation in order for the recovering and healing to be real and sustainable. It doesn't mean everyone needs to yell their business to the rooftops, of course, and most of us...especially celebrities, neither need nor want to do that. However, for someone who lived their excess for all the world to see, giving the world a glimpse into the private hell is rather appropriate. Considering that many could rightly have seen NS's past, their music, videos, etc., to be a glorification of self-destructive behavior, this book may be, in many ways, a credible attempt to balance Nikki and his band's active endorsement of unhealthy relationships and lifestyles.

Some people don't want to admit to the world that they had a moment of weakness. Even when the public already has an inkling that a famous person has a substance abuse problem (among other issues), for them to come out and admit it is still important. It humanizes them in ways that a biography, whether the subject is living or not, can never do.

I certainly take issue with the high-horse on which this review places herself. I believe she may be operating from a point of bias. Yes, she did mention that she's never had an addiction, and she also did admit to hypocrisy on her part. I do agree that these guys were certainly not typical of the male species, so amped on drugs and alcohol and the fame that they'd carved out for themselves. Their excesses are indeed legend, and most would right have not wanted their daughters anywhere near them. Yet the reviewers statement needs more qualifiers than she assigns to it. Dealing with their addictions and getting a handle on the problems behind their addictions can make it possible for them to have as meaningful a relationship. What you've conceived of as love and commitment is also subjective, and while these men don't fit your bill does not mean that the capacity for love for an equal partner isn't there. Like drugs and alcohol, people search for something in others and gravitate to people based upon unspoken needs, some of which aren't all that healthy. The people they find themselves among speak to the broken part of themselves, or are in some way part of the machine that tied them to addiction in the first place. Those relationships are not healthy. A friend of mine once said damage is attractive; he tends to seek out women that have major baggage of some kind. As a result, he doesn't have relationships that last very long, ultimately because there's way too much drama than anticipated. Until one is in a place where they can maintain a healthy relationship without the baggage that destroyed previous relationships, they're always going to end the same way. It's doubtful that these guys are no exception.

Some say that this feels like fiction. No doubt it does, since this is someone else's life you're reading. Someone actually said it IS fiction. On what evidence do you base this? I think people are under the assumption that Nikki Sixx just decided to pick up pen and paper out of the blue on Christmas in 1986. According to the author--and understandably we only have his word on this--he began writing journals at least 5 or 6 years prior to the ones he published. If you are someone that writes regularly in journals, it becomes a habit to you, one that becomes second nature. Often if you miss something one day you'll go back and fill in an entry days later; sometimes the information will feel secondhand, because you are discussing events as someone else related them to you. There are plenty of people that maintain some sort of journal while they are under the influence, suffer from crippling depression or are even suffering from delusions. The entries might always be coherent in the way that a healthy person's might, but one can still write.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are some embellishments in the book. I don't think a single autobiography exists that is free of them. What I would say is, think about how an addict views the world, particularly one with massive appetites. They see things larger than large, smaller than small, darkness where we see shadow, blinding light where we see a simple glow. And if these are his entries that contain the embellishments, it makes that much more sense.

These are my thoughts, speculative at the moment, regarding Heroin Diaries. I look forward to seeing how accurate they are.
October 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMightyAfrodite
This book is great I just got it yesterday and in on page 287 it's amazing how much nikki has been though
February 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngelique
I am not a drug addict by any means, but definetly someone who likes the odd rail during a good time.... Man I have never had any cravings for coke until I saw the pics of him doing it in the first month - wow time to give the shit up before it becomes a problem.

Thanks Nikki, this books wisdom is a huge gift to your fans.
May 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMadghost

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