A classic of addiction and recovery.
How do you describe an addiction in which your drug of choice creates a hole in your memory, a “white out,” so that every time you use it is the first time—new, fascinating, vivid? Michael W. Clune’s story takes us straight inside such an addiction—what he calls “the memory disease.”
With dark humor, and in crystalline prose, Clune’s account of life inside the heroin underground reads like no other. Whisking us between the halves of his precarious double life—between the streets of Baltimore and the college classroom, where Clune is a graduate student teaching literature—we spiral along with him as he approaches rock bottom: from nodding off in a row house with a one-armed junkie and a murderous religious freak to having his life threatened in a Chicago jail while facing a felony possession charge.
After his descent into addiction, we follow Clune through detox, treatment, and finally into recovery as he returns to his childhood home, where the memory disease and his heroin-induced white out begin to fade. White Out is more than a memoir. It is a rigorous investigation that offers clarity, hope, and even beauty to anyone who wants to understand the disease or its cure. This tenth anniversary edition includes a new preface by the author.
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Michael W. Clune's books include White Out: The Secret Life of Heroin and Gamelife. His creative and critical work has appeared in venues from Harper's and The Atlantic, to Critical Inquiry and Behavioral and Brain Sciences. He is currently Knight Professor of the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University.
Merve Emre is a contributing writer at The New Yorker and an associate professor of English at the University of Oxford. She is the author of Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America, The Ferrante Letters, and The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing, which was the basis for the documentary feature film Persona. She is the editor of the books Once and Future Feminist, The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway, and the Norton Library’s Mrs. Dalloway. In 2019, she was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize, and her work has been supported by the Whiting Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Leverhulme Trust, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin, where she was a fellow from 2020 to 2021.
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