How to Stop Time: Heroin From A To Z

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9780465031504: How to Stop Time: Heroin From A To Z

”Heroin,” writes Ann Marlowe, ”is a stand-in, a stopgap, a mask for what we believe is missing. Like the ’objects’ seen by Plato’s man in a cave, dope is the shadow cast by cultural movements we can’t see directly.”Cultural criticism masquerading as a heroin memoir masquerading as a dictionary, how to stop time looks at American society through the lens of heroin use. Weaving personal history (Marlowe used heroin for eight years) with aphorisms and analysis, Ann Marlowe is unsparing in her exploration of her, and society’s, obsession with heroin addiction. There is no glamorization of ’heroin chic,’ nothing about the irresistible power of the drug, no cliched scenes of degradation and ecstasy. There is much about craving the validation of danger, about suburban childhood, about the loss of a father to Parkinson’s disease, about moving to the East Village, musicians’ parties, being cool, and striving to remake yourself.how to stop time is the first book to examine heroin in relation to our cynical, post-consumer society, and the first to explain the profound nostalgia that powers both addiction and our age. ”That drive to return to the past,” Ann Marlowe writes, ”isn’t an innocent one. It’s about stopping your passage to the future. It is a symptom of the fear of death and the love of predictable experience.” Moral but not pious, this book sheds new light not just on nostalgia but on digital culture, consumerism, and glamour. In the annals of addiction literature it will take its place beside William S. Burroughs’s Junkie, Jim Carroll’s Basketball Diaries, and Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater.

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Review:

Don't expect to probe the mind of a woman whose life was ruined by heroin, because Ann Marlowe won't take you down that road. Instead, her provocatively structured memoir, How to Stop Time: Heroin from A To Z, follows the life of an upper-class addict who makes no apologies for the pictures she fails to paint.

Marlowe is the antithesis of the junkie stereotype. Throughout her seven-year addiction, she never shot up, never lived on the street, and never resorted to selling drugs or her body to sustain her habit. In short, she never bottomed out. As a result, readers with the preconception that all druggies end up on the dark side may put this book down and ask, "What's interesting about her addiction?" Ironically, it is precisely this absence of severity that makes Marlowe's memoir intriguing. The fact that her own game with heroin ends in a draw gives her an unusual perspective on the friends, lovers, and dealers whose luck ran out and who lost everything.

The memoir's alphabetically arranged entries read more like loosely connected essays than actual chapters, at times giving the book a slightly disjointed feel. She doles out the details of her addiction in bits and pieces, interjecting snippets of her youth, an acute look at the drug "problem" in the United States, and the gradual progression of her habit along the way. She describes her addiction as a method of slowing down time in an effort to impose order on her chaotic life, and a way of becoming vulnerable and daring all in one moment. Declaring it an act of free will, Marlowe speaks of a life with heroin as few have envisioned: one of restraint, consciousness, self-discipline, and very little guilt. --Melissa Asher

From the Publisher:

How to Stop Time was chosen one of the top 25 books of 1999 by The Village Voice.

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