A potent addition to the literature on drug addiction and recovery.



A journalist and activist recounts his years battling the opiates that helped quiet a lifelong, deep-running depression.

In this painful, haunting memoir, Poses takes us on a roller-coaster ride: bouts of heroin abuse mixed in with periods of sobriety, which will give readers hope for his prospects—only to have them dashed. Throughout, the author is a sympathetic guide to what it’s like to be addicted and seemingly hopeless. He is soulful, achingly honest, and often deadpan, portraying a battered innocence beset by a neurological illness, and he ably conveys his existential struggle: “Will my body ever learn to shut down without dope? Will my brain ever shut up?” Poses keenly expresses his gyroscope of emotions, showing a psyche that is seemingly never at peace. In one scene, the author sits at an airport bar, thinking about how he doesn’t like to drink alcohol. “If the bartender had said ‘We have morphine on intravenous drip, Percocet and Dilaudid pills, and transdermal fentanyl patches,’ I’d be high right now. I don’t know how else to feel okay in my own skin. And I don’t see God or AA changing that or helping me accept or forget it.” After college, the author took jobs in advertising and finance (he disliked both; he wanted to write) and then tumbled from the wagon once again. Poses vividly portrays the epic, agonizing pain of his withdrawals, most of which were spent “drenched in sweat and freezing cold, sitting on the toilet with my head in a plastic trash bin, a miasmic stew of shit and piss and puke.” Ultimately, some form of redemption arrives, and the author concludes with a concise, well-informed chapter on fundamental recovery, which “heals the wounds that led you to use drugs in the first place,” and the persistent problems associated with shame, poverty, and misinformation. Readers will cheer for Poses.

A potent addition to the literature on drug addiction and recovery.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-954861-99-2

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Sandra Jonas Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.


Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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