THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK by James Mills

THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

I like the feeling of not feeling."" This perhaps sums up the hook of addiction-- the need to escape not only a world the user did not make but cannot manage... ""This story is both fiction and non-fiction"" (no, it is not a non-fiction novel) and it is the reconstructed case histories of Bob and Helen caught in the panic (the cut-off in 1964 when 220 pounds of pure heroin were seized in France). Mills, a professional writer, spent months with them-- Bob who was 21, who started by boosting taxicabs, ended attempting to muscle out a Mafia connection; Helen, a prostitute, who turned tricks for money, prescriptions, and ended by sinking to the worst offense of all during the panic, turning Bobby over to the ""Narcos."" Mills identifies all the symptoms of addiction; they are more than the needle's stigmata; there are the puffed hands, the pinned pupils, the slack stance; he also isolates the psychological hang-up which is stronger than the physical dependence, and at the close itemizes, even where he cannot solve, the ""unmet needs"" of the problem. This is excellent reportage which says all that needs to be said in the best and simplest way possible... Not that it hasn't been handled before. Most recently in Larner & Tefferteller's The Addict In the Street (Grove-1965) and Kron & Brown's Mainline to Nowhere (Pantheon-1965) a more professional overview. Here it seems not only just as real but somehow less remote.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1966
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux