Smacked: A Story of White-Collar Ambition, Addiction, and Tragedy

Random. Feb. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9780525511007. $27. BIOG
Journalist Zimmerman was bewildered to find her ex-husband, Peter, dead on the floor of his lavish house in San Diego, having ingested a lethal amount of cocaine, opioids, and crystal meth. A successful lawyer with two children, he seemed to have it all. This memoir is Zimmerman’s attempt to make sense of this tragedy, and of the pervasive drug abuse among white-collar professionals. In reconstructing her marriage in broad strokes, Zimmerman depicts Peter as thoughtless and frequently selfish, and paints a portrait of a troubled relationship in which she was always smoothing everything over, making it all work, and finding creative ways to get some measure of happiness and fulfillment in her life. Peter remains opaque throughout the book, his motivations and demons unclear; perhaps because they were unclear to Zimmerman. The marriage inevitably dissolves, after which Peter’s behavior grows increasingly erratic and unstable as his addiction takes hold, ultimately leading to his death. In the aftermath, Zimmerman seeks answers from current and former white-collar addicts, as well as health-care professionals.
VERDICT The book’s strength is in the first half; Zimmerman’s reckoning with her own incognizance will likely ring true with many readers who have confronted addiction in loved ones, friends, and colleagues.

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