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Nicotine
     

Nicotine

by Gregor Hens, Jen Calleja (Translator), Will Self (Introduction)
 

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By turns philosophical and darkly comic, an ex-smoker's meditation on the nature and consequences of his nearly lifelong addiction
 
Written with the passion of an obsessive, Nicotine addresses a lifelong addiction, from the thrill of the first drag to the perennial last last cigarette. Reflecting on his experiences as a smoker

Overview

By turns philosophical and darkly comic, an ex-smoker's meditation on the nature and consequences of his nearly lifelong addiction
 
Written with the passion of an obsessive, Nicotine addresses a lifelong addiction, from the thrill of the first drag to the perennial last last cigarette. Reflecting on his experiences as a smoker from a young age, Gregor Hens investigates the irreversible effects of nicotine on thought and patterns of behavior. He extends the conversation with other smokers to meditations on Mark Twain and Italo Svevo, the nature of habit, and the validity of hypnosis. With comic insight and meticulous precision, Hens deconstructs every facet of dependency, offering a brilliant analysis of the psychopathology of addiction.
This is a book about the physical, emotional, and psychological power of nicotine as not only an addictive drug, but also a gateway to memory, a long trail of streetlights in the rearview mirror of a smoker’s life. Cigarettes are sometimes a solace, sometimes a weakness, but always a witness and companion.
This is a meditation, an ode, and a eulogy, one that will be passed hand-to-hand between close friends.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Dwight Garner
…when Nicotine stays dry, earthy and combustible, like a Virginia tobacco blend, it has a lot to say and says it well…Like any author worth reading, Mr. Hens is sometimes best when he goes off-topic, dispatching obiter dicta.
Publishers Weekly
10/24/2016
This book is part memoir and part meditation on the power of memory as shaped by addiction; it is not a self-help manual in the vein of “How I quit smoking and how you can too!” Hens’s short book is an idiosyncratic and thought-provoking essay on the grip of nicotine, how it shaped his life, and how it still factors into his life despite having quit smoking decades ago. Born in 1965 Germany, Hens grew up with cigarettes as an integral part of his childhood. His early memories include taking family trips in cars filled with smoke and watching his aunt share her monthly allowance from the cigarette company where she worked. Cigarettes continued as a constant companion throughout his life, never more so than when he tried to quit. Smokers, former smokers, and even those who have never smoked will appreciate the desperate humor in Hens’s description of a smoker’s nicotine deprivation when crammed into a plane, and the physical meltdown upon finally being released onto the sidewalk outside an airport. Hens gives readers an understanding of what it is like to have an addiction, albeit a legal one, and how the end of an addiction can be felt as a loss. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
2016-11-01
A memoir about cigarette smoking whose meditations provide an intellectual frame for the addictive habit.In his unorthodox and candid memoir, German writer and translator Hens discusses his longtime addiction to cigarettes, his eventual recovery, and the ongoing battle with his addictive personality to fight the ever present urge to smoke. However, the author's writing surpasses the redemptive arc of many other addiction narratives. Hens does not portray himself as a pitiable figure seeking sympathy, nor does he tout a sense of moral superiority for kicking his habit. Instead, he offers a meditative, philosophical inquiry into his addiction and the pleasure he derived from smoking. From an account of his very first cigarette, which was handed to him as a child of 5 or 6 by his mother to light a New Year's rocket, to a description of the nicotine rush as the moment "I became myself for the very first time" to an exegesis on the psychology of the "last" cigarette, Hens is sentimental about the lost pleasures of smoking, but he does not dwell in nostalgia. The author is interested in plumbing his memory for vignettes that narrate but do not explain away his addiction. For Hens, the greatest pleasure of smoking is the quotidian, the reflective moment afforded by smokers to observe the world and themselves more attentively. Moreover, the author does not preach the negative health effects of smoking. As someone who admits to smoking more than 100,000 cigarettes before quitting, in his postscript, Hens rather fittingly invites readers to enjoy a smoke. The author is an idiosyncratic stylist whose sentences are often terse and elliptical, and Calleja's translation ably captures his unique voice. In a book that is as much a paean to smoking as it is a eulogy, Hens is both poetic and unforgiving about the pleasures and pains of smoking.
From the Publisher
Part memoir, part discourse on the nature of addiction and withdrawal. ---Wall Street Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590517932
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
01/10/2017
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
98,295
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Gregor Hens is a German writer and translator. He has translated works by Will Self, Jonathan Lethem, and George Packer into German.

Coming soon . . .

Liam Gerrard is an award-winning voice artist with over ten years of experience working in every field of the voice industry, as well as a highly acclaimed stage and screen actor. A 2017 Audie Award nominee, he has narrated over thirty audiobooks in a wide range of genres and styles.

Coming soon . . .

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