Reviews of Hammered

Hammered Reviews

“I found it fascinating and very easy reading, if not an easy subject. It is written by G.N. Braun. It is from LegumeMan Books. I like he got out of the pit without, as it says, god or alcohol. Recommended.”
~ Joe R. Lansdale – Author of way too many books to mention, and literary legend.

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“Fuck this try hard tough guy. Good writer, if you read his book it’s actually pretty sweet, but fuck this try hard tough guy lefty faggot.”
-Ash LeRuez (right-wing nut job who hates my guts)

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“I don’t normally write reviews but being a former heroin addict in Melbourne , I felt compelled to endorse this book. It is a frank honest look at the daily struggles in the life of an addict. The author also does not fall into the trap of a lot of these memoirs of sugar coating events , and or ,constantly justifying their actions. All in all , a great read from a talented author who has obviously lived through this hard and terribly painful life. Kudos to you Mr Braun”
~ A. Gough

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“Hammered is an extraordinary book, possibly due to its very ordinariness, if that makes any sense whatsoever. GN Braun has laid himself bare and raw in this memoir, and doesn’t gloss over any of the facts. It’s completely nonjudgmental and unsentimental, just a straightforward laying out of the facts, one after the other in a clinical yet conversational style that just highlights the reality of what happened. It’s an engrossing read; I devoured it in less than 24 hours and found it fascinating. I’ve never actually read any Irvine Welsh (having only seen Danny Boyle’s brilliant movie version of his most famous book) but calling this an Australian Trainspotting would be a relatively fair comparison, I’d think, in its unflinching examination of the day to day minutiae, good and bad, of serious drug addiction and its ramifications. It’s definitely a very worthwhile read, so get your hands on a copy today!”
~ Martin Livings

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“Braun has lived through the darkness and is alive to tell the tale…”
~ Scaryminds.com

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“This book is to Australia what Trainspotting is to Scotland.”
~ RB Clague – Author of Daisy, Twenty Twisted Tales, Whitefella Dreaming and Desert of the Mind

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“GN Braun’s ‘Hammered: Memoir of an Addict‘ is most unlike anything you’ve ever read – at once compelling and horrifying. Like watching a slow motion train crash, it’s nearly impossible to tear one’s eyes away, while your brain tries to deny the signals it is receiving. A deeply honest memoir of an addict, the fact that he descends to daily heroin use is mostly irrelevant to the overall, relentless binding chains of addiction itself. Blunt reporting is one of the things that makes this book so outstanding, although we easily perceive the addict cannot possibly have a view of his own journey that reflects the whole truth, whether in real time or in reflection.

The opening scene of the book is shocking and one that must be considered from time to time as the story proceeds – it is not presented as an excuse by the author, although it sometimes approaches that level – rather it is honestly presenting the catalyst propelling this single individual away from mainstream society to reside on its dark edge.

Petty crime, the deliberate blindness of society to its underbelly, a total lack of morality, the delusions of victims and those around them, and family managing to operate around dislocation are also features of the book. Finally, there is a message of hope and even redemption against all the odds. One that may be statistically rare for heroin addicts, but one that surely must be welcomed by other addicts, their loved ones, and the vast majority of readers as an achievable goal for others still ensnarled by the bonds of these drugs and their chemical and psychological addictions. And a positive fate that our guide accepts with the same equanimity that he accepted all the trials of his former life. Remarkable.

Be prepared for a harrowing ride, be prepared but don’t turn your eyes away. You might well discover something here that fiction often promises but also often fails to deliver – the exposed core of the human condition.”

Rocky Wood – HWA President

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“Technically speaking, G. N. Braun’s Hammered is not horror. It is, as the subtitle bluntly announces, a “Memoir of an Addict” that recounts just as bluntly a near-lifelong history of drug abuse. It is told directly, in first person, with no attempts at justification or recriminations. And there is nary a ghost, a vampire, nor a zombie to be seen anywhere in it.

Except, of course, that it is horror, horror of the most disturbing sort because it is real, because it details the daily struggle one man faced with his choices and their consequences. What began as partly recreational use, partly self-prescribed therapy to dampen the memories of childhood abuse, descends inevitably into daily use, addiction, and dealing, until quite literally there is nothing left for him to look forward to.

And there are in fact monsters throughout. Ghosts—unnamed, almost invisible people who support Braun in his habit, who slide effortlessly into his life and just as effortlessly out of it, each taking with them a bit more of his humanity, of his soul. And Vampires—dealers who depend on the weakness of others for their own survival, who feed on the desperation addicts face every day, every hour, almost every moment they are without their drugs. And Zombies—mostly conspicuously Braun himself—whose life passes almost mindlessly as he finds himself incapacitated by his needs.

At times, he is all three together.

The book is frightening in its portrayal of the ease with which one can enter and remain in the drug culture, the casualness of drug use—shooting up within minutes of leaving rehab, for example, or living through a relationship with another person in which neither is ever entirely clean. It is frightening in its portrayal—mercifully brief but scathing nevertheless—of parents whose children mean less to them than their habits. It is frightening in its portrayal of a police system incapable of slowing, let alone stopping, the traffic…themselves brutal in their approach to the situation.

And yet it is ultimately hopeful. In the final pages, an opportunity arises for one final choice, one final experience with rehabilitation, this time underscored by Braun’s decision to change his life. And in the end, it is his own determination—not anti-drug therapies or rehab visits or external pressures from those around him—that enable him to get clean.

Hammered is arresting reading, difficult reading, not because it is poorly done but rather because it is flawlessly executed. It gives specifics, no matter how distasteful, when they are required to make the point clearly; it passes over other events when a generalized comment or passage is sufficient. It never gets bogged down in self-pity or complaint. Throughout, he recognizes that the choices, the decisions, the actions—no matter how he justifies them at the moment—are ultimately his own.

And that, finally, is his escape.

Recommended.”

MICHAEL R. COLLINGS (Collingsnotes)

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“Braun’s story is brutal, honest and disturbing. It’s the kind of frank account of a life derailed by so many factors you wonder if he had any choice but to become a drug addict. This is not a book you read for entertainment. You read it to remind yourself that maybe the choices you made in your own life aren’t so bad.

Hammered differs from other great Junkie memoirs like William S. Burrough’s “Junkie” or “Naked Lunch” in that Braun writes with a clear mind and a carefully recorded memory of what it is like to be dragged through life by a needle. The narrative style is close to Burroughs though; that easy almost deadpan recounting of just how horrific and all consuming addiction can be. Overall it is a grim manual on how to survive a life where nothing matters but the next fix.

I give it 4 stars for the clear, compelling, and utterly gripping story and a 5th star because the honesty of it left me shaken.

Hammered is the memoir that should be read by everyone.”

Paul Mannering – Author of Tankbread

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Hammered: Memoir of an Addict is not the sort of read one would expect from such a title. After closing the last page of this book and setting it aside on my nightstand, all I could think about is how quiet and calm this book is, how utterly straight forward and honest a portrayal this is of one man’s life steeped in the miasma of drug addiction and crime.

While most books of this nature tend towards the melodramatic, the romanticism and sometimes near glorification of the addict and the lifestyles of addicts and criminals, this memoir is true-to-life, not only because of the fact that it is the truth, but also because the tone in which it is written underscores the normalcy in which the addict finds himself after the experimentation phase is over and the addiction is day-to-day life. G.N. Braun takes no pains to romanticize his experience, nor to make his experience seem unique. To the contrary, his story is told in a way that is so matter of fact that there is only what is there: truth. Ugly, sometimes funny, painful, loving and struggling truth.

Most remarkable about this tale, given the genre, is that while Braun makes no excuses for his choices (although of course there are reasons people fall into these traps), he also doesn’t make heavy apologies or confessionals about his experience. He simply tells it like it was, which, as an avid reader of memoirs, I appreciate enormously. It’s often too easy for an author to stray from the facts and fall into the temptation of egocentric, long-winded, self-centered narration in books of this genre. Braun does none of that. The book is nearly minimalist in its realism.

I highly recommend Hammered: Memoir of an Addict to any and all who wish for a wide open view into another human being’s life, without gilding, decoration, punch-pulling or the fastidious nitpicking that many a memoirist is guilty of.

I loved it.”

Sarah C. Bell – Author of Urban Fairytales Vol. 1 & 2

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“Hammered: Memoirs of an Addict is written in a straightforward, almost novelistic style (the term these days is ‘creative non-fiction’) that neither romanticises/glorifies the world described nor moralises simplistically about it. The book spares us no punches as it explores the author’s long-term addiction to a range of drugs including speed and heroin. The narrative voice is even and understated with very little ‘telling’ (read: ‘extraneous moralising after the event’) as Braun lures us into the strange twilight world that is Melbourne’s underground drug culture – though this could be any major city on earth.

Braun builds our attachment to (and empathy for) the narrator via devices often used by fiction writers before proceeding to test that attachment/empathy as the narrator descends during his late teenage years into addiction and petty crime. Moral ambiguity abounds adding to the central drama and drawing us further into the text – provoking emotional identification at every turn.

The Central Victorian launch of Hammered (which I was lucky enough to attend)culminated in a Q & A session with the author in which he spoke about his wish that the book might help better inform not only those in the grips of life-threatening addictions but also their loved ones who are often in despair at the self-destructiveness often accompanying such conditions. ‘If there is one thing I’d like loved ones to take from the book it’s the message that you should never give up on a family member or friend going through these kinds of experiences … no matter how far gone he or she may appear to be ..’

Braun’s existential starkness reveals a deep humanity as well as a profound fascination with the puzzle that is humanity in extremis. This book has after-resonance – highly recommended!’

Ian Irvine – Author of Dream-Dust Parasites

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“Drug addiction is a divisive subject.  Some approach it moralistically, decrying the selfish hedonism of the junkie.  Others adopt a gentler stance, seeing addiction as something stemming from circumstance and misguided choices.  Others, thanks possibly to the excesses of the rich and famous, seem to believe there is some sort of glamour in it.  In Hammered: Memoir of an Addict, GN Braun offers tales from the front line of his own battle with addiction, and along the way hopes to exorcise some demons, and nudge others away from making the same mistakes as him.

The arc of Braun’s story is familiar; the childhood abuse by a figure of trust, the resultant shame and torment, followed by escape attempts through the abuse of increasingly potent substances.  Its familiarity needn’t breed contempt though.  Braun is candid without being self-indulgent.  The abuse is covered graphically but briefly, and is never used as an attempt to legitimise Braun’s later behaviour.

From this harrowing beginning, the story takes a turn for Beat Generation country.  Not Burroughs though, but Kerouac.  In the early stages of the book, Braun recounts his speed fuelled, itinerant lifestyle at the time in a manner which is reminiscent of On The Road.  Despite the obvious desire on Braun’s part not to sugar coat or glamorise any part of his story, his amphetamine period is hardly nightmarish, either in terms of physical dependency or social consequences.   The horrors only fully kick in when heroin comes into Braun’s life – and horrors they are.

As many an addiction memoir will attest, the life of a junkie is grimly mundane, an endless cycle of scoring, scrounging, stealing, and occasionally sleeping.  Hammered gets this point across well.  While on heroin, Braun sets everything else in life aside; his mother becomes little more than a cash point to him, and his days become filled with a rinse-and-repeat cycle of dealing and using.  The characters who come into Braun’s life are two-dimensional, with his drug experiences more memorable than the people he shared them with.

The superficiality of supporting characters fits well with Braun’s no-nonsense style.  His prose is uncomplicated, unvarnished.  This, perhaps, is the only appropriate style in which to tell such a grim tale. There is no melodrama, even when the vultures of police and social services begin to circle.  Anyone seeking Shakespearean tragedy should look elsewhere – Braun’s business is solely to report the facts.

The question with any addiction memoir is one of its purpose.  Some chronicle the user’s relationship with their drug of choice; some bear witness to the ways an addict may throw their life down the metaphorical toilet; some are social comment, looking outward more than inward.  Hammered is firmly in the second category.  While we understand Braun’s need to escape, the particular appeal of heroin is never really explained.  While policing policy is dealt with inasmuch as it affects Braun, he readily acknowledges that he, not society, was responsible for his behaviour.

Overall, this is a cautionary tale, meticulously honest, self-aware and un-glamorous.  In a world where a line of coke is a fashion accessory, Hammered is a reminder of the Emperor’s nudity.”

http://www.bookgeeks.co.uk

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“I just finished your junkie memoir. The reason I bought it on Kindle is because I used to live and work in Melbourne.
I find it amusing how you refer to your welfare payments as your “paycheck.”
I worked my ass off and paid high taxes so that you could do your drugs.
When are you going to pay back all the money you stole?”

~ Martin Schrick

NOTE: I never referred to payments as ‘paycheck’ so I doubt Martin ever read the book.

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“G’day mate. Just finished “hammered” fasted book I have ever read, I just couldn’t put it down! I have a heap of questions but I’m to afraid to ask, you already have shared so much. You have shown me that what I may have considered “rats on the street” are far more complex than they may seem, that maybe the poor basted looking to chase or sell could have a terrible secrete they have locked up inside, and that life is not always made up of simple choices, Aussies love a battler, and a hero, I consider you to be both, a true survivor who went ( lived ) to hell and back and some how made it out alive. I related, laughed and cried.
Thanks mate so much for sharing it’s put a whole new perspective on my own life and given me a new strength to be a better man. ” PS, I emailed Tom Elliot last night from 3AW hope you don’t mind but the last couple days they have been talking about the impact the addicts have on society with out hearing the other side, Tom replied saying he was keen to pick up Hammered tonight and have a read, all the best.”

~ James Waters – reader (posted on the author’s page at Facebook)

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One thought on “Reviews of Hammered

  1. Vivek Dubey says:

    It takes guts to write like this. It was heartening to know that this man never lost his compassion through that dark phase of his life. Never robbed people and didn’t push drugs to kids.

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