Clune’s gripping account of life inside the heroin underground reads like no other, as we enter the mind of the addict and navigate the world therein.
How do you describe an addiction in which the drug of choice creates a hole in your memory, a “white out,” so that every time you use it is the first time--new, fascinating, and vivid? Michael W. Clune’s original, edgy yet literary telling of his own story takes us straight inside such an addiction--what he calls the Memory Disease.With black humor and quick, rhythmic prose, Clune’s gripping account of life inside the heroin underground reads like no other, as we enter the mind of the addict and navigate the world therein. Clune whisks us between the streets of Baltimore and the university campus, revealing his dual life while a graduate student teaching literature. We spiral downward with Clune--from nodding off in an abandoned row-house with a one-armed junkie and a murderous Jesus freak to scanning a crowded lecture hall for an enemy with a gun.After experiencing his descent into addiction, we go with him through detox, treatment, and finally into recovery as he returns to his childhood home and to the world of color. It is there that the Memory Disease and his heroin-induced white out begins to fade.
A poetic memoir of wit and sharp observation, Clune's work reveals the world of a heroin addict. Through symbolic repetition, he drills in not only the desperate cycles of drug use but also the pulsing thoughts that keep dope necessary in the addict's mind. Clune does not shy away from highlighting the subjective beauties of the drug. His stream-of-consciousness voice rings with rat-a-tat-tat anaphora, exposing the heroin logic of thinking in vials instead of dollars, and aptly incorporates extended metaphors, such as the castle that tries to protect him from withdrawal. In one of many instances of unanticipated humor, he weaves in stark self-analysis to break down the effects of withdrawal. Clune's razor-sharp description of the magical first time he got high exemplifies why this stands out among dime-a-dozen addiction memoirs. Blending light philosophy into his heroin, he vividly describes his childhood; imagining Candy Land as a real place led to the game-changing thought that "the inside of my body is bigger than the outside." Clune's forages into a no-self philosophy culminate in his idealization of communism in the scope of his recovery. At its best, this chronicle keenly touches on the devastations of heroin with disciplined literary flair.