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- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Two Dollar Radio (January 17, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1937512347
- ISBN-13: 978-1937512347
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
With vulnerability, grit, and hard-won humor, acclaimed novelist Joshua Mohr returns with his first book-length work of non-fiction, a raw and big-hearted chronicle of substance abuse, relapse, and family compassion.
Sirens provides a harrowing and complicated account of Mohr's years of substance abuse and culpability. Employing the characterization and chimerical prose for which he has been lauded, Mohr leaves no rock from his sordid past un-turned, from his childhood swilling fuzzy navels as a latch-key kid, through the black-outs and fist-fights, his first failed marriage to his path to sobriety, through the birth of his daughter and the three strokes he suffers in his thirties that reveal he has a literal hole in his heart.
Sirens is a spectacularly moving tome of honesty and emotion from one of our most gifted contemporary writers.
A Best Book of 2017 —San Francisco Chronicle
"A high-wire act that feels like it’s unfolding in real time. It pulses with passion for a life that’s one beat from slipping away."
—San Diego City Beat
"Sirens is one of those books you open thinking to check out a few pages, only to find yourself putting everything else on hold so you don’t have to put it down. It’s that good."
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Raw-edged and whippet-thin, Sirens swings from tales of bawdy addiction to charged moments of a father struggling to stay clean. Mohr’s prose is lean and scrappy—a featherweight boxer that packs a punch.”
—Los Angeles Times
"The book feels incredibly alive. The prose moves fast. There’s nothing at all calcified or fossilized here. Mohr knows addiction and has rendered an honest portrait of it here. Days spent in a bar with Fernet never feel far behind. The fight is ongoing. In Sirens, the fight is for Mohr’s life, and it’s real."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Sirens is a new kind of song that Mohr sings himself: mournful, raw and full of gratitude."
—Las Vegas Weekly
"Even when its pages are a “pageant of debasement,” Mohr’s work captivates, chronicling the desperate need that addicts feel, their inventive methods of self-sabotage, and the reality that falls off of the wagon are rarely gentle affairs. His is a precarious disease, and his intricate account shows just how vigilant one must be to hold it in remission. Sirens is a dark, urgent, and brutal picture of addiction—but also one that shows that recovery is possible, even if it is a lifelong pursuit."
"Poetic, touching, inspiring, and deeply empathic.... It seeks, with audacious honesty, to come to grips with the reality of relapse."
"In reality, the struggle never ends, and it is Mohr's acceptance of that fact that infuses Sirens with melancholy, even as he navigates the unfamiliar territory of fatherhood. It's the type of brutal honesty that propels the reader forward, even though they are afraid to know the ending, one that most likely exists outside the confines of the book. Definitely pick this one up."
"A powerful, dizzying work, neatly arranged and hauntingly written."
—Vol. 1 Brooklyn
"By turns raw and tender, this book not only chronicles a man's literary coming-of-age. It also celebrates the power of love while offering an uncensored look at the frailties that can define—and sometimes overwhelm—people and their lives. An entirely candid, compelling memoir of addiction and the long, fraught road of recovery."
"Joshua Mohr’s fiction — he’s the author of five novels to date — roars with a hard-fought humanism, a potent sense of place and a host of memorably flawed characters. With his new book, Sirens, he turns that same storytelling approach on his own life. The story he tells is a harrowing and intense one, chronicling his experiences with addiction; his path to sobriety, marriage and fatherhood; and his subsequent discovery of a medical condition that put his life in peril.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"New Dad nearly becomes Newly Dead Dad in Joshua Mohr’s astonishing, heart-in-the-mouth, darkly funny and wildly inspiring memoir, Sirens. What Mohr endured—three strokes in his 30s and heart surgery, and that’s just the fun part—is more than most of us will suffer in a lifetime. Happily, the worse his prognosis, the stronger his writing. Until, by the end of his hospital party, what emerges is a cri de coeur of power, intensity, and—I’m just going to say it—love. This is the kind of book that makes you want to grab strangers at bus stops and scream at them to read. Think Kathy Acker, think Denis Johnson, think Amy Hempel. Sirens is a truly powerful work of art, by an artist we’re all lucky to have alive and working.”
"To the short list of genuinely great addiction memoirs we can now add Joshua Mohr's Sirens, a searing and at times hilarious account of Mohr's lost years in the dive bars and gutters of San Francisco. Like Mary Karr and Jerry Stahl, there is no line Mohr won't cross, either in his erstwhile quest for self-immolation, or his fearless honesty in reporting back from that time. But what sets this book apart is Mohr's unwillingness to traffic in pat notions of redemption: he cleans up, sure, but he also takes pains to remind us that the monster is always lurking, ever-patient, waiting for the right moment to show its face and seek release."
—Ron Currie, Jr.
"This isn’t your average recovery memoir. No mere spinning of war stories here. Joshua Mohr has written a raw, openhearted account of his struggles with alcohol and drugs, told in clear, beautiful prose that doesn’t romanticize his substance abuse or his hard work toward sobriety. Mohr’s honesty in this book is astonishing and necessary, his candor about hitting bottom and relapsing deeply moving and important. It’s a hell of a compelling read."
“Fast and fascinating as the life it chronicles, it's also a blueprint for how to rebuild a life you've burned down, a paean to the redemptive powers of love and art.”
—Justin St. Germain
Joshua Mohr is the author of Some Things that Meant the World to Me, one of Oprah Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, Termite Parade, an Editors’ Choice on The New York Times Best Seller List, Damascus, called “Beat-poet cool” by The New York Times, Sirens, a memoir which was named a "Best Book of 2017" by The San Francisco Chronicle, as well as Fight Song and All This Life, which received a boxed review at Publishers Weekly. He lives with his family to Seattle, Washington.