Stars, Cars and Crystal Meth by Jack and John Sutherland
“Jack Sutherland was nine years old when he first got drunk,” said Sam Leith in The Guardian. By 14 he was a “troubled and self-hating homosexual”, and had lost his virginity to a stranger in a park; by 16 he had attempted suicide. But after a spell in rehab, all that was to change. Over the next 15 years, the young Englishman worked in California as a PA and limo driver to the stars, favoured by the likes of Eminem, Michael Stipe of REM, and the drag queen RuPaul. That was before another “hair-raising descent into depravity” that cost him his career. So is this just another “boilerplate drug memoir”? Not at all. What sets it apart is the identity of its ghostwriter – the subject’s own adoptive father, John Sutherland, distinguished literary critic and emeritus professor of English literature, himself a reformed alcoholic. And the “tender, pained, reproachful, forgiving” dynamic between father and son provides a special “literary and emotional torque”.
As a father myself, I read these lurid adventures “with one eye closed”, said David Hepworth in The Independent. Jack’s lifestyle involved “bad company, reckless driving and lots and lots of lovely chemsex” (drug-fuelled orgies). His last employer, Mickey Rourke, described him as the “biggest f***-up I have known in my whole life”. Still, the “drug-fuelled benders” provide much of the book’s interest, said Jake Kerridge in the Sunday Express. His celebrity employers seem “incredibly nice”: even the legendary hellraiser Rourke is “sweet but bonkers” (he orders Sutherland to polish the shrine to his late chihuahua). The good news is that Jack is now “sober and happy”. And thanks to the “compelling narrative” created by father and son, we know him so well that “it takes a heart of stone not to weep at the happy ending”.