A young engineer spirals downward into drugs, then 12-steps his way back in this dogged dysfunctionality narrative.
Wyatt’s fictionalized autobiography tells a story set in 2009 about a NASA engineer named Wyatt who works on the space shuttle by day and parties hard in the disco-era fleshpots of Florida’s “Space Coast” by night. “Hard liquor attracted me like an irresistibly beautiful woman,” he muses, and her sisters marijuana and cocaine soon join the fun. He also meets genuine women at the dance clubs and bars he frequents, including Eve, a stripper who introduces him to the serpentine seductions of crack. From there, it’s a rapid tailspin of epic crack binges, paranoid hallucinations, and guns. After an intervention by, of all people, his dealer, Wyatt gets into rehab and finds a “loving and caring message of hope” at Narcotics Anonymous meetings but still struggles with temptation. Emotional traumas lead to a 10-year-long relapse that’s told in a blur but doesn’t really hit bottom; readers will get the sense that Wyatt simply ages out of drug use, though he does recommit to NA. The story is steeped in 12-step recovery-movement language and lore, with earnest exegeses of various steps and lengthy quotations from NA literature. This viewpoint does yield pithy insights into the character’s behavior, though at times it feels a bit rote. The Wyatt character also expounds on engineering assignments—he works on improving safety systems after the Challenger disaster—in sections that are often interesting but sometimes impenetrable (“I…started getting involved with the SRB heated gaseous nitrogen aft skirt purge that would be used to warm the nozzle-to-case joint”). The story will connect with readers most when he keeps things personal, especially in the portrait of his complex relationship with the self-destructive Eve, whose loss he never gets over. In those passages, the prose is at its most vivid and has the most impact. Readers will feel both the damage done by drugs and the allure of their promise to numb one’s anguish.
A revealing, sometimes-moving story of an Everydruggie.