Overview


"Akashic launches a new series of crime anthologies, each focused on a different controlled substance, with this addictive volume."
--Publishers Weekly

"All told, The Speed Chronicles deserves great praise for the audacity of the topic, the depth of the discussion, the diversity of its voices, and plain, old, good storytelling."
--New York Journal of Books

"The Speed Chronicles represents a surprising range ...

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The Speed Chronicles

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Overview


"Akashic launches a new series of crime anthologies, each focused on a different controlled substance, with this addictive volume."
--Publishers Weekly

"All told, The Speed Chronicles deserves great praise for the audacity of the topic, the depth of the discussion, the diversity of its voices, and plain, old, good storytelling."
--New York Journal of Books

"The Speed Chronicles represents a surprising range of experiences. The promise of the collection is that it will neither vilify nor romanticize its subject matter."
--Portland Mercury

"The contributors to The Speed Chronicles amply demonstrate the paradox of life under the influence of chemically induced acceleration. At the best moments, the use of stimulants can celebrate the beauty and intensity of human experience. As some of these stories reveal, despite the mainstream cultural narrative of 'tweakers' as amoral zombies, the persistent will to live in the face of adversity and affliction is a hallmark of many addicts’ lives."
--The Rumpus

"In Speed, Joseph Mattson has assembled an impressive, surprisingly diverse group of authors presenting their equally diverse impressions of a drug that the editor describes in his poetic, but hard-hitting introduction thusly . . .
--Bookgasm

Brand-new stories by: Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, James Franco, Megan Abbott, Jerry Stahl, Beth Lisick, Jess Walter, Scott Phillips, James Greer, Tao Lin, Joseph Mattson, Natalie Diaz, Kenji Jasper, and Rose Bunch.

The subject of speed is so innately intimidating yet so undeniably present that it begs to be written about. It is no secret that the drug has historically tuned up the lives of writers, including Jack Kerouac, Susan Sontag, Philip K. Dick, and scores more. Too rarely, though, has it been written about, and its jolt to the bones of the American landscape continues to peak. Akashic Books dares to bring forth the first contemporary collection of all new literary short fiction on the drug from an array of today's most compelling and respected authors. These are no stereotypical tales of tweakers--the element of crime and the bleary-eyed, shaky zombies at dawn are here right alongside heart-wrenching narratives of everyday people, good intentions gone terribly awry, the skewed American Dream going up in flames, and even some accounts of pure joy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Akashic launches a new series of crime anthologies, each focused on a different controlled substance, with this addictive volume and a reissue of 2005’s The Cocaine Chronicles. Actor James Franco offers the most bizarre selection, “Addiction,” in which he plays with the idea of appropriating the plot line of Twilight for a story he’d call “Crystal Meth,” touching lightly on the parallels between vampires and meth users (“never sleep, paleness, sensitive to sunlight”). The best entry, Megan Abbott’s “Everything I Want,” movingly portrays a doctor facing trafficking charges for dispensing speed to patients he deemed in need of it, exemplifying one character’s belief that “our hearts can take us all to dark and ill-timed places.” It remains to be seen whether stories in future books dedicated to, say, heroin will differ all that much from these on amphetamines. Other contributors include William T. Vollmann, Jess Walter, and Beth Lisick. (Dec.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781453259382
  • Publisher: Akashic Books
  • Publication date: 6/19/2012
  • Series: Akashic Drug Chronicles
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 226
  • Sales rank: 1,334,375
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author



JOSEPH MATTSON is the author of the story collection Eat Hell and the novel Empty the Sun (A Barnacle Book), which was a finalist for the 2010 SCIBA Fiction Award. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Read an Excerpt

THE SPEED CHRONICLES


By JOSEPH MATTSON

AKASHIC BOOKS

Copyright © 2011 Akashic Books
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-61775-028-1


Introduction

some gods, some panthers by joseph mattson

Because some gods made work, ennui, depression, deadlines, and pain, and some gods (perhaps the selfsame mothers) made adventure, rapture, elation, creativity, and orgasm—and especially because some gods made dopamine—some gods made speed. The answer to some deserts is some jungles. While some panthers skulk breathily to rest after the hunt, some panthers hide out in the bush mad to live, licking their chops along with their wounds, transforming lovely day into lustful night, and they do speed.

Speed: the most demonized—and misunderstood—drug in the land. Deprived of the ingrained romantic mysticism of the opiate or the cosmopolitan chic of cocaine or the commonplace tolerance of marijuana, there is no sympathy for this devil. Yet speed—amphetamines (Dexedrine, Benzedrine, Adderall) and especially methamphetamine; crystal, crank, ice, chickenscratch, Nazi dope, OBLIVION marching powder, the go fast—is the most American of drugs: twice the productivity at half the cost, and equal opportunity for all. It feels so good and hurts so bad. From its dueling roots of pharmacological miracle cure and Californian biker gang scourge to contemporary Ivy League campuses and high school chem labs, punk rock clubs to the military industrial complex, suburban households to tincan ghettos, it crosses all ethnicities, genders, and geographies—from immigrants and heartlanders punching double factory shifts to clandestine border warlords undermining the DEA, doctors to bomber pilots, prostitutes to housewives, T-girls to teenagers, Academy Award–nominated actors to the poorest Indian on the rez—making it not only the most essentially American narcotic, but the most deceivingly sundry literary matter.

Some shoot for angst-curing kicks, some snort for sad endurance, some for explosive joyrides into the unknown, because no matter how delicious dying young might seem, they want to live forever.

The subject of speed is so innately intimidating yet so undeniably present that it begs to be written about. It is no secret that the drug has historically tuned up the lives of writers, including Jack Kerouac, Susan Sontag, Philip K. Dick, and scores more. Too rarely, though, has it been written of, and as California and the West, the Pacific Northwest, and now the Midwest, the South, and the East Coast toss for the crown of Speed Capital, U.S.A., its jolt to the bones of the American landscape continues to peak as it creeps onward into the farthest nooks of our physiography and consciousness. Wherever there is either something or nothing to do—wherever there is need for more gasoline on the fire—there is speed.

The majority of you, dear readers, have likely seen before-and-after anti-meth photo campaigns and have been at least brushed if not inundated with depictions of the horrors of the Crystal Death, but speed, like all sources of addiction, whether any of the brethren narcotics or food, sex, consumerism, and otherwise, is initially a wellspring for bliss. There are reasons people are willing to put the residue of acetone, lithium batteries, the red phosphorus of match heads, and other inorganic and toxic compounds the liver is not sure what to do with into their bodies: It feels good. You get results. The ancient longing to inhabit supernatural powers and kiss the orbits of gods is realized. The panther becomes superpanther with the rifle of a medicine cabinet. Anything is possible (giving credence to the old slogan, Speed Kills—rarely is ingesting speed a mortal wound; respectively, more people die or equally damage themselves from the feral, madcap things they do on speed than from the toxicity of the drug itself—except, of course, the lifers). Yes, it gets ugly, so ugly. But before your sex organs revert to embryonic acorns and your teeth fall out and feasting on your malnutrition are insects for your eyes only, it's a rush of pure euphoria and a seeming godsend to surmount all of life's daily tribulations.

Some panthers' antiphon to some gods' will.

Because speed is first and foremost an amplifier, the sparking ebullience and potential wretchedness it projects are possibilities already seeded in the human order, just waiting for the right drop of dew and hit of sunshine to come along and juice it up.

The fourteen stories in this book reflect not only both ends of the dichotomy above, but, more crucially, the abstractions within and between. Merely demonizing the drug would be the same crime as simply celebrating it. Condemning it outright and defending all recreational use are equal failures against illuminating the drug's complexity. The panther worships the god in a kaleidoscopic mayhem of alchemical felicity, and in real sorrow too. Though you'll find exultation and condemnation interwoven, these are no stereotypical tales of tweakers—the element of crime and the bleary-eyed zombies that have gone too far are here right alongside heart-wrenching narratives of everyday people, good intentions gone terribly awry, the skewed American Dream going up in flames, and even some accounts of unexpected joy. Juxtaposed with circumstances inherent to the drug (trying to score, the sheer velocity of uptake, the agony of withdrawal, death, etc.) are nuances often elusive but central to speed's mores: camaraderie, compassion, and charm.

Together with Scott Phillips's tale of Frank Sinatra's mummified penis as leverage in a surreptitious bulk cold medicine deal and Kenji Jasper's meth murder-run by way of Capitol Hill, you'll find Megan Abbott's benevolent doctor injecting fast relief into disenchanted townsfolk and Jess Walter's bumbling brothers-in-arms too innocuous for high crime. With Jerry Stahl's no-punches-pulled, I mean the de facto nightmare scenarios through amphetamine hell, and my own rendering of Hollywood psychosis (the district in Los Angeles and, in part, its Tinseltown abstract) gone to fanatics and sacrificial death-dogs, you'll find William T. Vollmann's empathetic transsexual portrait of meth as vitamin supplement and Beth Lisick's suburban housewife's giddy eagerness for validity and subsequent triumph. There's James Franco's metafictional take on the cautionary tale and Rose Bunch's story of Ozark yard wars together with Tao Lin's disaffected New York City hipsters quietly pandering for significance and Natalie Diaz's haunting embrace of a sibling addict; Sherman Alexie's meth-induced war dancer razing everything in his path, and James Greer's investigation of the existential magical realism inherent in eliminating sleep from one's diet.

I thank the authors—gods some, panthers some, and titans all—for their incredible contributions. The dream roster has come to fruition, and I remain ever humbled and appreciative of their interest, generosity, trust, and guts to tango with the beast.

Because some gods have ridden the rails, some panthers rail the ride, 'scripts and spoons and straws raised like torches to Rome. Let us now go unto stories of them and those whose lives they touch—let's go fast.

Joseph Mattson Los Angeles September 2011

(Continues...)



Excerpted from THE SPEED CHRONICLES by JOSEPH MATTSON Copyright © 2011 by Akashic Books. Excerpted by permission of AKASHIC BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

PART I: MADNESS....................19
How to Go to Dinner with a Brother on Drugs Natalie Diaz....................29
War Cry Sherman Alexie....................45
PART II: MACHINATION....................63
Labiodental Fricative Scott Phillips....................79
Osito Kenji Jasper....................91
Amp Is the First Word in Amphetamine Joseph Mattson....................109
PART III: METHODOLOGY....................121
Wheelbarrow Kings Jess Walter....................137
Tips 'n' Things by Elayne Beth Lisick....................149
Pissing in Perpetuity Rose Bunch....................167
PART IV: MEDICINE....................185
Everything I Want Megan Abbott....................201
The Speed of Things James Greer....................213
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