The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murder
By Stephen Elliott
Graywolf Press, September 2009
This is, ostensibly at any rate, a true crime book.
One possible crime involves a hombre called Hans, who stands accused of murdering his wife. We follow the investigation and trial of this case; and as a matter of fact it provides the structure of the book. Another crime, or supposed series of crimes, relates to Sean, apparently his real name. He confesses to having committed eight or so murders, but the police think he is making it all up. The old story of ‘anything to be the centre of attention’ and all that.
For much (probably most, actually, though I’ve not done the arithmetic) of the book, however, Stephen Elliott writes about himself and what is (or once was) going on in his life. Some things that get a look-in are his battle with depression, his writer’s block, his problems with drug use (including the Adderall of the title), his sometimes messy personal relationships, his penchant for BDSM, his difficulties with his father, his time spent in care and living on the streets.
Now it is unsparing, honest and well-written – I’d happily praise the book on those grounds – but it also becomes a bit boring and samey, ever so slightly dull. After a while, you begin to lose interest in someone who is apparently so interested in himself. Elliott seems to spend his days with his head up his arse, seeing the world through his own preoccupations.
There was one sentence that raised a laugh, mind, something about an ideal, yearned-for mother who ‘keeps a dry erase board with a meal schedule on the fridge so you always know what to expect’ (122). For Elliott this might be a dream, or something he thinks he missed out on, for others it would be a nightmare.
It was not intended to raise a laugh, anyway, I’m fairly certain.