BEAUTIFUL THINGS

For much of his life, fate seemed to be trying to take Biden down, and he did his share to help it along. On the not-his-fault side were the tragic car accident when he was 2, which critically injured him and his older brother, Beau, and took the lives of their mother and sister; Beau's heartbreaking death at 46; and the nightmare of Donald Trump's relentless campaign to weaponize Hunter against his father. The author’s own major contribution to his troubles arose from his addiction to crack. His engrossing account of his downward spiral brings to mind Bill Clegg's Portrait of the Addict as a Young Man (2010), as Biden chronicles his battles with the “terrorizing band of skeletal night riders—the Four Horsemen of the Crackocalypse.” Sparing no detail, he ranges from the sardonic—while recounting his efforts to find crumbs of crack in the carpet, he writes, "I've smoked more cheddar popcorn than anyone on earth"—to the ruefully insightful: "Once you decide you're the bad guy everyone thinks you are, it's hard to find the good guy you once were." Looming over the narrative is the ultimate good guy, Beau, who didn't drink or take drugs and appears entirely pure in heart and mind. Though Hunter's addiction began long before Beau's death, the loss of his brother broke him. One of the hardest things to read about is the attempt by Hunter and Beau's widow, Hallie, to deal with their loss by becoming a couple. Difficult to read for different reasons is the chapter on Hunter’s Ukrainian business connections, which form the basis of Trump’s attacks and the "Where's Hunter" movement. The granular details shared here seem to bear out the author’s assessment that the whole episode is “most remarkable for its epic banality." When he was just about to cash in his chips for good, fate had one more surprise for Hunter, this one a stroke of Cupid’s magic.

BEAUTIFUL THINGS
For much of his life, fate seemed to be trying to take Biden down, and he did his share to help it along. On the not-his-fault side were the tragic car accident when he was 2, which critically injured him and his older brother, Beau, and took the lives of their mother and sister; Beau's heartbreaking death at 46; and the nightmare of Donald Trump's relentless campaign to weaponize Hunter against his father. The author’s own major contribution to his troubles arose from his addiction to crack. His engrossing account of his downward spiral brings to mind Bill Clegg's Portrait of the Addict as a Young Man (2010), as Biden chronicles his battles with the “terrorizing band of skeletal night riders—the Four Horsemen of the Crackocalypse.” Sparing no detail, he ranges from the sardonic—while recounting his efforts to find crumbs of crack in the carpet, he writes, "I've smoked more cheddar popcorn than anyone on earth"—to the ruefully insightful: "Once you decide you're the bad guy everyone thinks you are, it's hard to find the good guy you once were." Looming over the narrative is the ultimate good guy, Beau, who didn't drink or take drugs and appears entirely pure in heart and mind. Though Hunter's addiction began long before Beau's death, the loss of his brother broke him. One of the hardest things to read about is the attempt by Hunter and Beau's widow, Hallie, to deal with their loss by becoming a couple. Difficult to read for different reasons is the chapter on Hunter’s Ukrainian business connections, which form the basis of Trump’s attacks and the "Where's Hunter" movement. The granular details shared here seem to bear out the author’s assessment that the whole episode is “most remarkable for its epic banality." When he was just about to cash in his chips for good, fate had one more surprise for Hunter, this one a stroke of Cupid’s magic.