Working in a library, you guess that I’d pretty much have a fancy for literature. You’re not wrong. What I love most is coming across random interesting little finds which are no longer famous and are left on lonely bookshelves to rot. I found Alberto Moravia that way. One of his books that is. Not him personally.
This one wasn’t from the school library. It was left on the bookshelf at the Las Colinas by a friend of Mariela; also an Englishman. I had seen it there for the past year and a half and always tinkered with but I thought it looked slightly religious (I didn’t get as far as even reading the synposis, though the title gets its name from a Lou Reed lyric about opium) and I always had material on my own bookshelf that I wanted to read first. I’d never heard of the title or the author. I then saw it recommended in a different book that I’m reading (90 Day Novel) about how to write a first draft of a novel in that amount of time (it’s very challenging), mentioning the book as a series of short stories on a certain theme. This was drugs and alcohol and living on the edge. It was also described as poetic and a very simple model of putting together an anthology short stories and turning it into a novel with interconnecting links; something I’m attempting to do. It’s funny how something is left under your nose for so long, you dont have any need for it, then suddenly an alarm goes off in your head and what you didn’t need becomes needed in an instant. The book suddenly became a beacon of light (even though it was covered in dust).
The stories a written in first person and the main character is left nameless. He envelopes you into his own world like the sub culture full of drugs and chaos that was created by Irvine Welsh, mixed with the brutality of a lowlife in the United States of America written poetically in prose like Charles Bukowski (something else Johnson and Bukowski have in common is that they were both born in Germany but brought up in the States). In fact, the whole book reminded me of the lost people we met strolling around the strange flea market in Fort Lauderdale. There is also a dose of lucidity about his writing, in the same way On the Road by Jack Kerouac was written. Scenes move quickly from a dreamstate to reality and you don’t know where you are. Is this what drug addicts feel? I can’t tell you, but you feel a strange nauseous. It has its fair share of melancholy. Not a particularly happy book, though it is full of nice literations and winding prose and dark humoured dialogue to keep you entertained. The book had great reviews and the author seems like a seasoned author of great talent. If you like this kind of subculture, read it. For some reason, you’ll never forget it but you’re a little unsure about what you’ve read.