Book Review: Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me

BY COLLIN MITCHELL

Like so many of the recent stories about opiate addiction in the United States, Erin Khar’s journey toward heroin started with a pill. “I pulled The World According to Garp out from underneath my pillow and read,” she writes, remembering the first time she raided her mother’s medicine cabinet. She was eight. “After a little while, the heat in my body was replaced by the lightness of little bubbles . . . . It was the exit I desperately wanted.”

Khar’s experience as an advice columnist for Ravishly is well-suited to turn Strung Out: One Last Hit and Other Lies That Nearly Killed Me from what might otherwise be a distressing year-by-year account of addiction into a story that develops context and empathy toward mental illness and drug abuse. Khar is forthright in her opinion about our inability to understand addiction: “The stigma associated with opioids, with heroin, with “being a junkie,” prevents people from reaching out. And that stigma is killing us. Americans are stuck in a spiral of shame, and that shame drives the vicious cycle of relapse that many drug users get caught in.” In a culture that tends to conflate pity and prejudice toward adversity, this could be a helpful guide for the uninitiated in understanding the causes of drug and alcohol dependence.

Book Review: Tao Lin’s “Trip”

BY EMILY DUREN

If you want to find out what it feels like, both mentally and physically, to take nearly every psychedelic drug without having to suffer the side effects, look no further than novelist and poet Tao Lin’s Trip: Psychedelics, Alienation, and Change.

            Trip, Lin’s first memoir, centers on the time he was working on his novel Taipei, during which he discovered the work of the late Terrence McKenna, one of the biggest proponents of psychedelics. Deeply alienated while writing Taipei, Lin discovers McKenna’s research and becomes infatuated with the questions he poses about language, beliefs, and existence. However, interest eventually turns to adoption, and the reader is taken through a drug-fueled journey of DMT, MDMA, and many other psychedelics.