Akashic Books’ program to anthologize the world continues with this half-baked—in every sense—collection of pieces on the demon weed.
“She’d been a good girl.” So writes Joyce Carol Oates, novelist extraordinaire, with the implicit understanding that the “she” of the sentence will not be such a good girl once she wraps her lips around a doober. Indeed, “she” exults, “I will get high now. It will save me.” But does it? Only her therapist knows for sure. Oates is in a rare class of her own, but she’s just of the right age to have experienced the ’60s and its many forms of annihilating reality. So, too, are some of the other contributors to this collection, including Lee Child and the always enjoyable Raymond Mungo, who has traveled far, from the Haight of yore to the medicinal marijuana boutiques of today (“Prices were quoted by gram, eighth, or full ounce and got higher with perceived quality and more economical with greater volume, but my first impression was pure sticker shock”). The pieces by the younger writers tend to lack much, well, perspective; Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s sketch of getting baked in Singapore is lightly amusing, but it doesn’t amount to much, while Rachel Shteir’s piece on medicinal herb has an academic aridity to it (“Kristen talked about how cannabinoids can best be absorbed into the body by juicing, putting maybe ten or fifteen palm-sized leaves in a blender with some apples or carrots, and drinking the mixture like a smoothie”).
It’s not entirely clear who this anthology is intended for, but the literate stoner is better served by digging into some Terry Southern and Hunter Thompson—and hunting up some more Joyce Carol Oates, too.