Monday, October 10, 2011

Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast edited by Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane

Addicted: Notes from the Belly of the Beast edited by Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane

Release Date: September 1st, 2001
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Greystone Books
Source: Library
Buy It: Book Depository
Also By Author: Small Mechanics (Lorna Crozier)
Addicted is an anthology of personal essays devoted to a subject close--often way too close--to the hearts of the writers involved. That is their addictions, be it to booze, cigarettes, heroin, or self-destruction in general.
Although I was drawn to Addicted because of how much I loved Lorna Crozier's poetry collection Small Mechanics, each of the ten authors in this collection of essays completely blew me away.  With the exception of Crozier, whose father and husband were alcoholics, each writer is struggling with a life-consuming, and potentially life-ending, addiction. The majority of the collection- seven of the ten essays- focuses on alcoholism, with six of the writers being recovered alcoholics themselves, for as Crozier writes, in our culture alcohol "remains the common drug of choice. It is, after all, legal and easy to get." 

Addicted also asks some interesting questions about the connection between addiction and creativity, as well as offering a heartfelt warning to the next generation of writers who may be tempted to rely on substance abuse for inspiration. The writers in this collection are powerfully open and honest, they share not only their stories, but also their names. Many of them talk about the role family history played in their addictions, in "My Father, Myself" Marnie Woodrow writes "My father drank too much and, for a time, so did I. Something made him continue to drink; something made me pause halfway along the path." Perhaps by sharing their stories these authors have made somebody else pause on the downward spiral into the darkness.

For me, the standout of Addicted was definitely "Junkie" where Stephen Reid discusses his heroin addiction, one that began when a pedophile first injected him with morphine, seducing him.  Interestingly, Reid is the husband of Canadian poet Susan Musgrave and he appears quite often in her recent collection, Origami Dove. However, he is also a famed bank robber (he's currently in prison, as a documentary I saw informed me) as well as an author in his own right. His story, "Junkie" is incredibly smart and funny and absolutely heart-breaking. Writing about the man who took his innocence, Reid says "It is not what Paul took from me, it is what I kept: the lie that the key to the gates to paradise was a filled syringe." Later, in a statement which could apply to any addiction, he adds: "There is a Zen-like irony in the junkie slang "to fix." A shot of heroin doesn't fix anything: heroin only gives shelter to that which is broken."

As Patrick Lane writes in the afterword regarding addicts: "Some of us will make it, some of us won't, but we sing our heats out anyway. We sing as hard as we can." Addicted is a strong and complex voice singing the stories of addicts loud and clear. It is completely honest and completely memorable, as well as a must-read for young writers everywhere.

3 comments:

  1. Chloe (YA Booklover Blog)October 10, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    hiee :) okay, this comment isn't exactly about your review (thought the book looks quite interesting!) but I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH! I am so excited to read all these things i've done!!! i read your comment last week about the banned substances but it hadn't arrived yet so I was a little confused :P but anyway, THANK YOU!!! you are super nice and awesome :D:D:D:D:D:D

    -chloe @ YA Booklover Blog :)

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  2. What made you pick this one up, it sounds amazing. Definitely adding to Wishlist. A newer version is available on Kindle, yaaaaaay. Sounds so honest.

    BTW - surprise for you on my blog, come over.

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  3. I mention it at the beginning of the review but I picked it up because I loved Lorna Crozier's poetry collection and I am definitely so glad I did, it's really powerful and I completely recommend it! Glad to see they made it available as an ebook as well. Stopping by your blog now (although I'm a subscriber as well but haven't checked my feed yet today :) )

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