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Model Citizen: A Memoir

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The intimate, gorgeous, garish confessions of Joshua Mohr--writer, father, alcoholic, addict Her teeth marks in the wood are some of my favorite things. Every now and again she rips the pick out of my hand and tosses it inside the guitar . . . I hold it over my head, hole down, shaking it back and forth, the pick rattling around in there. And as it ricochets from side to s The intimate, gorgeous, garish confessions of Joshua Mohr--writer, father, alcoholic, addict Her teeth marks in the wood are some of my favorite things. Every now and again she rips the pick out of my hand and tosses it inside the guitar . . . I hold it over my head, hole down, shaking it back and forth, the pick rattling around in there. And as it ricochets from side to side, I always think about pills. Maybe the pick has turned into oxy. Or Norco, codeine, Demerol. Maybe it's a pill and when it falls out I can gobble it up. After years of hard-won sobriety, while rebuilding a life with his wife and young daughter, thirty-five-year-old Joshua Mohr suffers a stroke--his third, it turns out-- which uncovers a heart condition requiring surgery. Which requires fentanyl, one of his myriad drugs of choice. This forced "freelapse" should fix his heart, but what will it do to his sobriety? And what if it doesn't work? Told in stunning, surreal, time-hopping vignettes, Model Citizen is a raw, revealing portrait of an addict. Mohr shines a harsh spotlight into all corners of his life, throwing the wild joys, tragedies, embarrassments, and adventures of his past into bold relief. Pulsing with humanity and humor, revealing the immediacy of an addict climbing out of the murky pit of his past, Model Citizen is a darkly beautiful, incisive confession.


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The intimate, gorgeous, garish confessions of Joshua Mohr--writer, father, alcoholic, addict Her teeth marks in the wood are some of my favorite things. Every now and again she rips the pick out of my hand and tosses it inside the guitar . . . I hold it over my head, hole down, shaking it back and forth, the pick rattling around in there. And as it ricochets from side to s The intimate, gorgeous, garish confessions of Joshua Mohr--writer, father, alcoholic, addict Her teeth marks in the wood are some of my favorite things. Every now and again she rips the pick out of my hand and tosses it inside the guitar . . . I hold it over my head, hole down, shaking it back and forth, the pick rattling around in there. And as it ricochets from side to side, I always think about pills. Maybe the pick has turned into oxy. Or Norco, codeine, Demerol. Maybe it's a pill and when it falls out I can gobble it up. After years of hard-won sobriety, while rebuilding a life with his wife and young daughter, thirty-five-year-old Joshua Mohr suffers a stroke--his third, it turns out-- which uncovers a heart condition requiring surgery. Which requires fentanyl, one of his myriad drugs of choice. This forced "freelapse" should fix his heart, but what will it do to his sobriety? And what if it doesn't work? Told in stunning, surreal, time-hopping vignettes, Model Citizen is a raw, revealing portrait of an addict. Mohr shines a harsh spotlight into all corners of his life, throwing the wild joys, tragedies, embarrassments, and adventures of his past into bold relief. Pulsing with humanity and humor, revealing the immediacy of an addict climbing out of the murky pit of his past, Model Citizen is a darkly beautiful, incisive confession.

30 review for Model Citizen: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    If I haven't made it clear over the years, I am a huge fan of Joshua Mohr. His novels are simply phenomenal and his memoirs are no different. They are ridiculously engaging. Opening up Model Citizen is like sitting down and shooting the shit with this guy. He pulls you right in, he's talking right at you. It's crazy how engaging and raw his writing can be. And after reading this one, and yes I realize this might be a little f'ed up to admit, but I think it made me fangirl on him a little harder. If I haven't made it clear over the years, I am a huge fan of Joshua Mohr. His novels are simply phenomenal and his memoirs are no different. They are ridiculously engaging. Opening up Model Citizen is like sitting down and shooting the shit with this guy. He pulls you right in, he's talking right at you. It's crazy how engaging and raw his writing can be. And after reading this one, and yes I realize this might be a little f'ed up to admit, but I think it made me fangirl on him a little harder. ((FYI - Model Citizen is half Sirens and half new stuff, for those who might not be aware. I hadn't been, and I had read Sirens back in 2017 and was experiencing some crazy deja vu as I started this one. LOL)) This is not just a story of recovery, but one of acknowledging that the demons never die. And of celebrating every moment of sobriety like it's the first one. And of living in fear of relapsing but of loving something outside of yourself so fucking much that it gives you the strength to laugh in the face of that fear and reduce those demons to dust right before your very eyes. It's also a terrifying look at your own mortality, and of figuring out how to cope with not knowing if your heart, your literal heart, is going to keep you alive long enough to see your kid grow up and your wife grow old. Get ready to be totally gut punched. In the best of ways.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I'd never heard of this author before but the cover of this drew my attention, as did the synopsis: a portrait of a recovering addict, who, after finally achieving sobriety, has a stroke aged 35. I'm glad I took a chance on this, as it's a highly readable memoir about Mohr's addiction and road to recovery. The sections on his relationship with his daughter were some of the best parts in my view and I found the book hard to put down for the first two thirds or so. Where this book is let down slight I'd never heard of this author before but the cover of this drew my attention, as did the synopsis: a portrait of a recovering addict, who, after finally achieving sobriety, has a stroke aged 35. I'm glad I took a chance on this, as it's a highly readable memoir about Mohr's addiction and road to recovery. The sections on his relationship with his daughter were some of the best parts in my view and I found the book hard to put down for the first two thirds or so. Where this book is let down slightly is the lack of distance the author has from his own story and from his own addiction. While his battle with sobriety has been a long one, it has happened relatively recently, meaning there wasn't quite as much introspection as I was hoping for. Thank you Netgalley and Farrar, Straus & Giroux for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sara Broad

    "Model Citizen" by Joshua Mohr is a memoir about his path from drug addict and alcoholic to sober father and writer, and often times back to where he started. Mohr writes with a certain lightness about all the time spent ravaging his body from the inside out, which is different from the morose tone used by other authors of books about addiction. He owns up to his past actions, at least those he can remember, and sheds light on his daily struggle to remain sober to those who may not be familiar w "Model Citizen" by Joshua Mohr is a memoir about his path from drug addict and alcoholic to sober father and writer, and often times back to where he started. Mohr writes with a certain lightness about all the time spent ravaging his body from the inside out, which is different from the morose tone used by other authors of books about addiction. He owns up to his past actions, at least those he can remember, and sheds light on his daily struggle to remain sober to those who may not be familiar with the constant pulls of addiction. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kris V

    This is a memoir unlike any other I’ve read before. Sprinkled between writing in the present, are memories of his childhood, his adult past, his blunders, his lovers, his losses, his gains. The fact is, this book begins with one very serious stroke, and ends with another. Mohr is on borrowed time, health wise and yet it’s not so easy to simply live in the present alongside his demons, trying to be the best husband and father he can be without breaking his sobriety or more than likely dropping de This is a memoir unlike any other I’ve read before. Sprinkled between writing in the present, are memories of his childhood, his adult past, his blunders, his lovers, his losses, his gains. The fact is, this book begins with one very serious stroke, and ends with another. Mohr is on borrowed time, health wise and yet it’s not so easy to simply live in the present alongside his demons, trying to be the best husband and father he can be without breaking his sobriety or more than likely dropping dead from his last stroke. Knowing the stakes, as they’re presented from the first page, I felt as if something or someone was pressing against my chest so that I had to breath slowly to get through all the pain that Mohr writes about, knowing how much pain he’s suffered, and how difficult it is to simply remain rooted to the ground without sinking into it. A truly raw, well crafted book that meanders in and out of the present so as to show the reader what it is to live in his body and mind, and still choose to remain standing, looking forward to the next sunrise, even if the odds are against him seeing it. This is not the end, yet if this book were his last - I think, if I were him, I’d be proud to have let it all hang out, finally, to show how hard it really is not to give up on living. Thanks to Goodreads, Netgalley and to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the copy. I intend to buy more than a few to gift out.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It is nice to see the perspective of addition from the addicts view. As, a society we seem to judge people for their addictions. However, we know nothing about what these people have gone through or what they are currently experiencing. This book takes you on the journey of daily life and struggles. It was very well written and an amazing story!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    If you liked Sirens, you are going to love Model Citizen's expanded story. And if you're new to Mohr's memoir, buckle up because you're in for ride. No one does scumbag lit with with as much energy and empathy. If you liked Sirens, you are going to love Model Citizen's expanded story. And if you're new to Mohr's memoir, buckle up because you're in for ride. No one does scumbag lit with with as much energy and empathy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Suz Jay

    After hearing Mohr speak at an online event organized by Craig Clevenger about MODEL CITIZEN, I immediately put the book on hold at my local library. At Craig’s event, I developed big expectations about Mohr’s writing and his new memoir, and the book met those high expectations. I liked how the book is structured with a narrative that isn’t always linear, but definitely builds up to the fantastic epilogue. Mohr is really candid that he is an alcoholic and an addict, but he’s also an author and a After hearing Mohr speak at an online event organized by Craig Clevenger about MODEL CITIZEN, I immediately put the book on hold at my local library. At Craig’s event, I developed big expectations about Mohr’s writing and his new memoir, and the book met those high expectations. I liked how the book is structured with a narrative that isn’t always linear, but definitely builds up to the fantastic epilogue. Mohr is really candid that he is an alcoholic and an addict, but he’s also an author and a teacher and a husband and a father and a man with a life-threatening health condition. This book isn’t about getting clean so much as dealing with a heart condition that’s made him have multiple strokes and might just kill him. It’s also about relapse and trying to stay clean, which is especially problematic because he must take one of his drugs of choice as part of the surgery he needs to repair his heart. The book is about how multiple times a day, he must examine his reasons for wanting to stay clean and his reasons for making the effort to live. The book is as much about how much he loves his wife and daughter to how easy it would be to have a drink or take some drugs or find some other way to self destruct. This book is about how none of us knows how much time we have on this crazy planet, and that’s why taking the hard path of fighting to be better matters. Mohr points out how everyone is addicted to something, and that addiction serves a purpose, and then often times becomes self-destructive. He serves as his own case study, sharing the many ways he messed up, and the many times he took the hard path to do the right thing, such as telling his wife about the beer he had while traveling for a literary event. Together, they brainstormed about what the one beer meant and how to move forward from it. The author does so much reflecting that the ending serves as the perfect reflective metaphor. I’ve experienced a similar version of the art exhibition he references, but his descriptions are so on the money, I would have been just as moved if I had not seen the exhibit first hand. For me, this book is a 4 1/2 star read rounded up to five.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cris Edwards

    I had read Mohr's previous memoir, Sirens, and was excited to read this one. However, the first few pages of this book are identical to Sirens so, without having read this book, it seems like this is actually Sirens: The Expanded Edition. Nothing in the book description or cover text says that this book contains previously-published material. If I were to guess -- and I realize how this sounds snarky -- Mohr was approached by a larger publisher [Sirens was from a small publisher] who liked his me I had read Mohr's previous memoir, Sirens, and was excited to read this one. However, the first few pages of this book are identical to Sirens so, without having read this book, it seems like this is actually Sirens: The Expanded Edition. Nothing in the book description or cover text says that this book contains previously-published material. If I were to guess -- and I realize how this sounds snarky -- Mohr was approached by a larger publisher [Sirens was from a small publisher] who liked his memoir and encouraged him to pump up the page count to around 300 pages, the ideal page length for nonfiction bestsellers, so it could be published more broadly under a different title. I have no problem with this, as Mohr's story is well-written, exciting, and heartbreaking, so a wider audience is good. I just wish that it was more honest about what this book contains. I think of someone like Augusten Burroughs who has managed to put out a whole string of great memoirs without ever plagiarising himself. On the other hand, if you want to read Mohr's story in a more-succinct format, read Sirens.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    {3.5} It took me a little bit to settle into the rhythm of this book because of the constant time jumps and abundance of long run-on sentences. The time jumps were disorienting at first, and I wasn't sure where the book was supposed to be going, or what cohesive story Mohr was really trying to tell. The long sentences were a little overwhelming, and led me to read too fast and miss some of the details. It's also worth mentioning that the "freelapse" in the synopsis which seems like a major part {3.5} It took me a little bit to settle into the rhythm of this book because of the constant time jumps and abundance of long run-on sentences. The time jumps were disorienting at first, and I wasn't sure where the book was supposed to be going, or what cohesive story Mohr was really trying to tell. The long sentences were a little overwhelming, and led me to read too fast and miss some of the details. It's also worth mentioning that the "freelapse" in the synopsis which seems like a major part of the story really takes up no more than a few pages. The rest of the memoir is about Mohr's addiction journey as a whole. But I would say around halfway, I really started to understand the time jumps and notice the beauty and lyricism in the writing. The metaphors Mohr used throughout the novel were so unique and expressive, and I loved how he was able to tie his thoughts and experiences with addiction to the everyday events. This isn't the most linear or "story"-like book/memoir, but undoubtedly, the writing is beautiful.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jabiz Raisdana

    This book has left me raw for the three days I took to read it. I was up till 1:40 am last night blasting my way through the last 100 pages. This is a story that hits too close home in so many ways, none of which have to do with that fact I am mentioned in it and used to work in the in San Francisco with Josh back in the day, when things were still pretty stable in his life. But without getting into all that, this is a story of strength and hope and all the ways that we are broken. Josh is a rem This book has left me raw for the three days I took to read it. I was up till 1:40 am last night blasting my way through the last 100 pages. This is a story that hits too close home in so many ways, none of which have to do with that fact I am mentioned in it and used to work in the in San Francisco with Josh back in the day, when things were still pretty stable in his life. But without getting into all that, this is a story of strength and hope and all the ways that we are broken. Josh is a remarkably talented writer who can straddle the chasm between the filthiest most shameful side of being human and the absolute wonder of fatherhood and yearning to live. This book is for anyone who has known some in recovery or danced too close to the bottom themselves. I hope he can find his way out of that basement. I would love to sit in his yard and have my girls play with his daughter, get to know Lelo more and share some of our new stories. The ones we have lived out in the light.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Luis Cuesta

    I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. This is an unflinching memoir on addiction. Author, Joshua Mohr began to drop acid before class in high school, and later he got deep into heroin, cocaine, and ketamine.He eventually found lifelines—he went back to school, forged a career as a novelist, got married, and had a daughter who inspired him to get sober. However, he began to suffer strokes in his early 30s, caused by a previously undiagnosed heart condition, and was informed by his doctor I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. This is an unflinching memoir on addiction. Author, Joshua Mohr began to drop acid before class in high school, and later he got deep into heroin, cocaine, and ketamine.He eventually found lifelines—he went back to school, forged a career as a novelist, got married, and had a daughter who inspired him to get sober. However, he began to suffer strokes in his early 30s, caused by a previously undiagnosed heart condition, and was informed by his doctor that he isn’t likely to live past 50, for that reason “Model Citizen” was conceived, in some part, as a potentially final literary document of Mohr’s life. Mohr confronts his demons with a nostalgic touch permeating the whole text, providing ’s raw account that is equally shocking and moving.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Have you ever felt hooked on an activity or a substance, whether intoxicating or seemingly more benign? Did you know that the word “addiction” comes from a Latin verb that means “to worship” and that in Roman law, an addiction was an enslaved person? Have you ever wanted to speed shirtless through a Nevada snowstorm to certain death on the back of a lunatic’s motorcycle to put everything finally to rest? Did something compel you to do otherwise? If you can relate, check out Model Citizen by Josh Have you ever felt hooked on an activity or a substance, whether intoxicating or seemingly more benign? Did you know that the word “addiction” comes from a Latin verb that means “to worship” and that in Roman law, an addiction was an enslaved person? Have you ever wanted to speed shirtless through a Nevada snowstorm to certain death on the back of a lunatic’s motorcycle to put everything finally to rest? Did something compel you to do otherwise? If you can relate, check out Model Citizen by Joshua Mohr to find out if “addicts dream of electric shame,” what awakens them, and how they face the world when they do.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    Mohr is a great writer, and I plowed through the first half of the book in a few hours. I read the next 25% a little less enthusiastically, and ended up skimming the last 25% from the end backwards (forwards?). I can’t help feeling that as tortured and sometimes beautiful as his story was, it needed a little bit more editing. Or, maybe I just felt a little wrecked by it all by the end? Also, I couldn’t tell help but think that the cute little girl that helped keep him sober is going to turn into Mohr is a great writer, and I plowed through the first half of the book in a few hours. I read the next 25% a little less enthusiastically, and ended up skimming the last 25% from the end backwards (forwards?). I can’t help feeling that as tortured and sometimes beautiful as his story was, it needed a little bit more editing. Or, maybe I just felt a little wrecked by it all by the end? Also, I couldn’t tell help but think that the cute little girl that helped keep him sober is going to turn into a pre-teen/teenager one day, and well— he may need to find a more stable source of motivation to stay clean. But, a worthy read by a brilliant mind.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    I was first drawn to this book when I saw it at an indie bookstore so I added it to my list and checked it out from the library. I’m thankful I didn’t buy it. I appreciated the author’s truthfulness and vulnerability to share with us what addiction is really like but I felt like it was lacking that reflection piece that makes memoirs special. Instead, it seemed like I was just reading about his previous benders which was broken up with bits about his daughter and heart condition. The preview of I was first drawn to this book when I saw it at an indie bookstore so I added it to my list and checked it out from the library. I’m thankful I didn’t buy it. I appreciated the author’s truthfulness and vulnerability to share with us what addiction is really like but I felt like it was lacking that reflection piece that makes memoirs special. Instead, it seemed like I was just reading about his previous benders which was broken up with bits about his daughter and heart condition. The preview of this book made it seem like his “freelapse” and heart condition would take the focus but that was not the case.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    There’s no way to write an objective review of this as Joshua Mohr appears to be my doppelgänger: we both got drunk on day/week/decades long benders in the same Mission District bars in the 2000s, and we both went to rehab with a determination to do right by our families with impending fatherhood staring at us in our bloodshot eyes. With sobriety comes new challenges, anxieties, and occasional relapses. “Model Citizen” chronicles the hallucinogenic joy and sorrow of a debauched life evolving into There’s no way to write an objective review of this as Joshua Mohr appears to be my doppelgänger: we both got drunk on day/week/decades long benders in the same Mission District bars in the 2000s, and we both went to rehab with a determination to do right by our families with impending fatherhood staring at us in our bloodshot eyes. With sobriety comes new challenges, anxieties, and occasional relapses. “Model Citizen” chronicles the hallucinogenic joy and sorrow of a debauched life evolving into sobriety and beautiful reflections on parenthood.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hosho

    Joshua invites us into his big, beating, beautiful and malformed heart, walking us through the darkest urges of drug and alcohol abuse, his missteps and mistakes, and also lets us taste just a touch of his redemption too. He's unafraid of the grey areas and the not-so-easy answers, and courageously digs deep for the things he's responsible for, while ruminating on just what it will take to keep history from repeating itself. Spoiler alert, folks: it'll take love...a wide-open and fearless love w Joshua invites us into his big, beating, beautiful and malformed heart, walking us through the darkest urges of drug and alcohol abuse, his missteps and mistakes, and also lets us taste just a touch of his redemption too. He's unafraid of the grey areas and the not-so-easy answers, and courageously digs deep for the things he's responsible for, while ruminating on just what it will take to keep history from repeating itself. Spoiler alert, folks: it'll take love...a wide-open and fearless love which is the driving force under all the best parts of this redemption.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    Model Citizen: A Memoir, is Joshua Mohr telling his story of alcoholism and addiction, and dealing with his desire to stay clean. He is a teacher, an author, a husband and a father and one morning his wife calls 911 because he is having a stroke. The book is about Mohr's self destructive life prior to his medical emergency. Maybe reading about the author's addiction issues would be helpful to others trying to understand their own issues, and I'm fairly certain it can be helpful to those knowing Model Citizen: A Memoir, is Joshua Mohr telling his story of alcoholism and addiction, and dealing with his desire to stay clean. He is a teacher, an author, a husband and a father and one morning his wife calls 911 because he is having a stroke. The book is about Mohr's self destructive life prior to his medical emergency. Maybe reading about the author's addiction issues would be helpful to others trying to understand their own issues, and I'm fairly certain it can be helpful to those knowing or living with an addict or alcoholic.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike Trigg

    This blurb on the book perfectly captures my sentiment: “No one anywhere writes into the gap between grit and grace better than Joshua Mohr.” I’ve read few other works that can describe such horrifyingly heartbreaking scenes in such exquisitely rendered prose. Makes you cry double when you read it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Scott James

    Author Josh Mohr already has two votes in the FMK game, and with Model Citizen he's hit the trifecta. This memoir of addiction explores his fantasies, failures and felonies. It's a breathless, immersive ride that helps explain the allure of drugs - a cautionary tale that's exceptionally well told. Author Josh Mohr already has two votes in the FMK game, and with Model Citizen he's hit the trifecta. This memoir of addiction explores his fantasies, failures and felonies. It's a breathless, immersive ride that helps explain the allure of drugs - a cautionary tale that's exceptionally well told.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Madison Barney

    Raw, moving, and gritty. I finished this book in one day. Joshua Mohr doesn't hold anything back, and at times, it's uncomfortable. Despite his flaws, you want to see him recover and succeed without any setbacks. It's an insightful and relatable memoir that I'll be recommending for years to come. Raw, moving, and gritty. I finished this book in one day. Joshua Mohr doesn't hold anything back, and at times, it's uncomfortable. Despite his flaws, you want to see him recover and succeed without any setbacks. It's an insightful and relatable memoir that I'll be recommending for years to come.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Searingly honest. I always enjoy Joshua Mohr’s books. I got him to sign this one when he was at Powell’s recently—on top of being a great writer he seems like an incredibly nice guy. I’ve met him twice now and both times were a pleasure.

  22. 5 out of 5

    12052

    “These lives of ours, they don’t make a lick of sense. If you told me a shooting star was just some disgruntled angel using a lighter to burn god, I’d believe that. Makes about as much sense as anything else in this withdrawing world” p. 314

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    Overall it was a good book. I would have liked it more if it was in order and not jumping around as much.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caron Begley

    Mainly takes place in The Mission and North Beach. Well written, entertaining, and thoughtful.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maria Wickens

    Loved this. Reminded me a little of Dennis Johnson.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lissa Franz

    A wild ride, gorgeously written. Radical honesty is cathartic. Mohr is one of my new favorite writers, period.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jody

    Hard to hear story, but I Liked the old San Francisco location references.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Catharine

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jewel

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robbie

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