Addiction is strange. At its heart is the pleasure released when opiate chemicals flood the brain. Addicts' brains have certain chemistries in common, even though their pleasure-triggers can take many, sometimes weird forms. It seems strange to me that moments of pleasure can create lifetimes of damnation.
Most of us cross that dark threshhold in a rush of warmth and light. We spend the rest of our lives comparing every dull moment, every blunted, habituated high, to those early, golden days when the high was still new.
For me, it started with Batman comics. Spiderman and the X-Men figured in there too. And Wonder Woman, who woke other, darker pleasures in my four year old breast.
Once I learned to read, I moved on to harder drugs. The way a heroin addict can tell you about their first really good high, or a hard-core alcoholic remembers the early days when every beer was his friend, I remember a book called Splinter in the Mind's Eye, by Alan Dean Foster. And Octagon House, by Andre Norton.
Those were the first books that really shook me. The ones that made the life outside go away, that cut me to the bone, that gave me that rush.
Today, I'm still chasing that rush. Trouble is, same as the drinker, the junkie, the problem gambler all habituate to their highs, I can't get that same rush in the places I used to. I get pleasure, sure. Quite a lot of pleasure.
But what I'm looking for is that serious, major, insane high. That up-all-night-call-in-sick-the-next-day-because-I-can't-close-this-book high. There are a handful of places where I know I can go for it, but those bastards right so damned slow! And too many of them are dead.
I've just finished Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child, Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson and COld Flat Junction by Martha Grimes. Mighty fine, all of them, but none cut too deep. Today I'm returning to James M. Cain and Joe Lansdale's masterpiece, The Bottoms. The Tiny Dynamo is flying through the Harry Potters once again.
A little more leather and a little less bathing, we could be a literary Sid and Nancy...
Check that apply:
___ I frequently (once or twice a day) find that myThree or four 'yeses', you may have a problem. Five, get thee to a counselor!
conversation centers on books or reading experiences.
___ I read to deal with tension or physical stress.
___ Most of my friends or acquaintances are people who read.
___ I have lost days of school/work because of reading.
___ I have had the shakes when going without a good book.
___ I regularly read upon awakening, before eating, or
while at school/work.
___ I have been arrested for Driving while reading.
___ I have periods of time that can't be remembered while
reading or buying books.
___ Family members think reading or book purchasing is a
problem for me.
___ I have tried to quit reading but cannot. (A good test
is voluntarily going for six weeks without a good book
and not experiencing physical or emotional distress.)
___ I often double up, reading two books at a time or
regularly read more books than others.
___ I often read to "get ready" for a social occasion.
___ I regularly hide books and reading material from those
close to me so that they will not know how much I am reading.
___ I often read by myself.
___ My reading or book buying has led to conflict with my friends
or family members.
In fact, go anyway. They have *great* promotional literature....