The Curious World of Drugs and their Friends does not endorse its subject matter, per se. Some of the more frightening consequences of drug use revealed in its pages include the guy who allegedly gouged his own eyes out under the influence of PCP and the drug dealer who went on a 13-day trip after swallowing his entire LSD stash during a drug raid. Nevertheless, this compendium justifies a place for intoxicants in literary, philosophical, political, and pop culture through the ages. Those who received a career boost from drugs include Ken Kesey, Andy Warhol (who combated weight gain and fatigue with the equivalent of Adderall), and Sigmund Freud, who recommended cocaine as a therapeutic treatment for morphine and alcohol addiction — the use of all three undoubtedly influenced both the spectrum of his dream life as well as his sense of its importance. Rock stars, of course, inhabit a place of honor, from David Bowie (whose cocaine use, according to a Berlin transvestite, caused him to give off a particularly foul odor) to Amy Winehouse to the seemingly immortal Keith Richards (whose admission that he once tried to snort his father?s ashes mixed in with a line of cocaine is as inscrutable — and hilarious — as ever). Those looking for alternatives to drug use might investigate fasting, running and hyperventilating; or, much less advisably, trepanation (the act of drilling a hole in one?s head). This slim volume is quite useful as a guide to the state of altered states — though what use one makes of it is, of course, entirely voluntary.
About the Author
Amy Benfer has worked as an editor and staff writer at Salon, Legal Affairs, and Paper magazine. Her reviews and features on books have appeared in Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, The Believer, Kirkus Reviews, and The New York Times Book Review.