With piercing honesty, [Carr] writes a dazzling drunk-a-log about her on-again, off-again struggle with sobriety, and examines which genes the gods gave her and which they took away ... Carr’s writing is filled with tiger-stalking courage. In fact, she writes so well that when she falls off the wagon, you can almost taste the tingling pleasure of her first forbidden sip of cold white wine; how the second and third sips loosen her tightly braided psyche; and then, how the wine slides her into sociability ... She’s more than gifted, and she writes beyond her years — yet frequently shows the charm of her youth.
Throughout this visceral book, Erin is frank about her father’s struggles with addiction, as well as her own ... Growing up during her father’s drugs-to-fame story is no fairy tale, and it’s clear she feels pressure to continue the ascent. Erin does an excellent job of bringing her famed father to warts-and-all life. Her telling rings true to the many Minnesotans who knew David, who was born and raised in the Twin Cities and worked at the now defunct Twin Cities Reader before editing the Washington City Paper and then landing a job at the New York Times.
I expected Carr's memoir, All That You Leave Behind, to elicit the same level of feeling [as at a live event]. On the page, however, she is much less successful at getting her emotions across ... [Carr] moves rapidly from scene to scene, never lingering on the complex emotions that memoirs are built to investigate. As a result, All That You Leave Behind functions far better as a portrait of David Carr than as one of the writer herself. She consistently lets her father overshadow her on the page ... [Carr] traces her struggle to get sober while processing her father's death, but nearly every scene ends with a blackout; she never tries to find out what happened, nor does she give voice to her sister, her best friend, and her boyfriend, all of whom were present throughout. Nor does she fully examine an earlier attempt at sobriety, after her drinking began to threaten her career ... As is, the book provokes both gratitude and empathy. But Carr's significant writing, in which she investigates herself with the rigor she brings to her journalistic subjects, is yet to come.