The Dope Show

Turning the drug into her muse and mirror ultimately enables Marlowe to retrieve the scraps of her driven, alienated life, to construct her "specialness" by writing about it, rather than snorting it from plastic bags. In that sense the book is a real accomplishment. Nonetheless, there's something revolting about a yuppie smirking at the other wrecks while she plays native informant to the "underground" and ennobles her own habit with lofty intellectualizations. "Our culture has lent dark powers to narratives of drug use, more than to drug use itself," she pompously declares, "and I am taking advantage of them, like a painter using the severity of northern light." I was as moved by the author's oddly redemptive revelation of her sterile "specialness" as I was haunted by its smarmy aftertaste.

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