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“It’s not the feeling of doing the drug that stays new. The drug high starts to suck pretty quickly. Pretty soon it sucks so bad you quit. Never again. Then you see a white top. Or even imagine you’re seeing one. And it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it.”
It is a desperate chase that lasts the rest of your addiction or your life, whichever ends first. After Michael Clune was introduced to drugs for the first time, his life became a series of ill-fated attempts to capture the ultimate high. The irony of heroin addiction is that it does not get better with time or experience—the best fix is always the first. With black humor and quick, rhythmic prose, Clune’s gripping literary memoir, WHITE OUT: The Secret Life of Heroin (Hazelden Publishing; April 1, 2013; $14.95), reads like no other as we go inside the heroin underground, enter the mind of the addict, and navigate the world therein.
Clune says that his heroin abuse created a hole in his memory, a “white out,” so that every time he used it, it seemed to be for the first time. His descriptions of what it was like and the things he and his friends did while high, are vivid, even poetic. But in reality his life was a mess as his relationships failed and he found himself in increasingly dangerous situations—all in the name of getting another white top.
In WHITE OUT, Clune discusses the culture of heroin. Whether he was buying it at the side of the road through his car window or on a street corner in a strange city, Clune knew what to look for in order to score. During his many attempts to quit the cravings were so intense, he confesses, that he abused drugs the entire time he was taking medication to counter the effects. Amidst the police busts and time spent in a jail cell packed with addicts, he faced the ultimatum that saved his life: get clean or go to prison for felony possession.
Today, clean and sober, Michael W. Clune is an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University. He has successfully published a scholarly work on American literature with Cambridge University Press. He has a life full of color and contrast, no longer just a “white out.”
With heroin abuse dramatically increasing across America, and heroin named one of last year’s most harmful drugs, WHITE OUT is timely, eye-opening look at the life of a heroin addict and the larger population of users all around us. One white top is the entrance fee, and Clune hopes that more and more people will be able to pass it by without a second look back.