THE SCORPION'S TAIL by Antony Sharples


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A London drug odyssey which reads like a fable ghostwritten by some zealot from the National Council on Drug Abuse. Back in 1963 Antony Sharpies took a toke of pot at a party: from there it was downhill all the way. It all happened faster than you can say ""gimme a fix."" From pot to preludin to coke to hash to skag; just like those scare movies they show to high school students. Heroin corroded his moral fiber; ""junk had subverted my will."" This being London rather than New York, Sharpies' harrowing junk-ridden existence didn't include burglaries and theft to get the cash he needed to score. He simply went to a doctor, ""registered"" and got a prescription. Even the cops didn't hassle him. Eventually though, Sharples wearied of the doper's life; he tried to kick it. But heroin had become his raison d'etre and without it he felt ""bereft."" Eventually he fastened on ""European mysticism"" as the route back. No gurus, astrology or Tarot--he meditated and worked out his own patchwork system. After a time he was able to rid himself of his habit. Somehow he never makes you care very much. Maybe because Sharples never says anything about who he was or where he was going or whom he loved before he joined the dismal ranks of West End junkies. We learn that he had a family and various girl friends, but they're no more than ciphers in this narcissistic ""destruction trip."" Maybe it's his British reticence but the whole dreary story sounds too pat, like a well-rehearsed cautionary tale. There's no visceral impact at all.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1975
Publisher: Taplinger