cover image The Heroin Chronicles

The Heroin Chronicles

Edited by Jerry Stahl. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-61775-106-6

The third and finest Akashic entry yet in its Drug Chronicles series (after The Speed Chronicles and The Cocaine Chronicles) focuses on the enigmatic opium poppy and its various derivatives. Whether it’s black tar heroin or Oxycontin (aka “hillbilly heroin”), opiates have a long literary heritage, from Coleridge and Baudelaire to Burroughs and Donald Goines. As the 13 contributors to this all-original anthology reveal, those who partake of the sacred flower are forever changed, but the price of paradise is often steep: overdose, hepatitis C, soul-crushing depression and anxiety when in withdrawal, degradation, self-destruction. Stahl (Permanent Midnight), himself a recovering addict with long-term sobriety, has assembled an impressive array of writers to create this “encyclopedia of bad behavior.” Indeed, these tales of chasing the dragon, with corollaries often violent and savage, will satisfy devotees of noir fiction and outsider art alike. Standouts include Tony O’Neill’s “Fragments of Joe,” L.Z. Hansen’s “Going Down,” Sophia Langdon’s “Hot for the Shot,” Gary Phillips’s “Black Caesar’s Gold,” not to mention Stahl’s own “Possible Side Effects.” (Jan.)