cover image How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z

How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z

Ann Marlowe, Author Basic Books $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-465-03150-4

Part memoir, part cultural criticism and part junkie riff, journalist Marlowe's fragmented reflections on her seven years as a heroin addict provide further insight into a world illuminated by such works as Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries and William S. Burroughs's Junkie. Marlowe holds her own against these heavyweights with a series of short essays, each categorized alphabetically under such headers as ""first time,"" ""narcosis"" and ""sacrifice."" Under the entry ""god"" she writes: ""Addiction creates a god so that time will stop--why all gods are created."" After a relatively benign and comfortable life growing up in a New Jersey suburb, Marlowe consciously sought out the god of heroin after moving to Manhattan. With a combination of detached observation and painful memory, Marlowe presents an honest and compelling account of what it was like to cruise by a buying spot and have sex while on dope. She also proves to be an excellent cultural commentator, presenting insights into why people start using drugs, how society glamorizes heroin whereas actual users do not and how men and women take drugs differently. By cross-referencing her entries, she allows the reader to skip from one period of her life to another in a shaky chronology of moments of stopped time. This inventive form effectively illustrates the random quality of memory, especially when under the influence of drugs. Marlowe's excellent writing makes her memoir an important and fascinating addition to the literature of addiction. (Nov.)