In the publishing industry, when someone speaks about Bill Clegg books, they usually mean those written by his top-shelf clients. Now the literary agent has become a celebrated author himself. Clegg’s no-holds-barred addiction memoir, Portrait of an Addict As a Young Man, is not always an easy book to read, but it is always a fascinating journey into the mind of an addict. Born to a middle-class family in rural Connecticut, Bill Clegg began using drugs and alcohol at the age of 12, in part to blot the torments of an overbearing father and a growing physiological disorder. Growing up in the ‘80s, gay sex and crack cocaine held a dark attraction for him. Boyishly charming and painfully insecure, Clegg enrolled at Washington College in Maryland, and after taking a publishing course in 1993, found a job at a New York City literary agency where his astute intelligence, insight into the writer’s craft and hard-nosed business acumen shot him into the top ranks of Manhattan’s cutthroat literary professionals. Then, as now, Bill Clegg’s client list included such A-list authors as Heather Clay, Nick Flynn, Heather McGowan and Stephen Elliott. And many Bill Clegg books were nominated for the Young Lions Fiction Award. In 2001, Clegg left to start his own agency with a friend from publishing circles, but soon found himself in a downward spiral of sex and crack addiction, an excruciating descent that destroyed his career, his savings, his relationships and nearly his life. How Clegg rose up from the ashes and returned to sobriety—and success—makes for an addiction memoir that’s both painful and fascinating. Portrait of an Addict As a Young Man is his first book, and we look forward to reading more Bill Clegg books in the future—both by him and by his stable of authors.
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