Chris Arnade has a series of photographs showcasing Hunts Point, a Bronx neighborhood which houses—amongst families living in projects, non-profit workers, and junk dealers—drug addicts living between makeshift cardboard homes, in shelters, under train tracks and on park benches, some newly out of jail with an itch that will likely land them back in shortly. To most people, drug addicts inhabit a dark and alien space, as physically removed as possible from mainstream society, with a chronic inability to ever achieve a tax-paying, 9-to-5-job-working, family-having sort of normality. What makes Cocaine’s Son interesting is that the ‘addict’ in this memoir (Itzkoff’s father) is a person who most readers would earmark as normal (in fact, better off in some ways than ‘normal’ people).
Cocaine’s Son is a tender memoir about the author’s coming of age in the shadow of his father, a fur coat trader addicted to cocaine. Amidst the recent popularization of addiction memoirs that do as much to glorify the pleasurable excesses of drug and alcohol addictions as they chronicle the devastating lows, Cocaine’s Son adopts a less dramatic and perhaps more realistic approach.