The Curious World of Drugs and Their Friends: A Very Trippy Miscellany

The Curious World of Drugs and their Friends does not endorse its subject matter, per se. Some of the more frightening consequences of drug use revealed in its pages include the guy who allegedly gouged his own eyes out under the influence of PCP and the drug dealer who went on a 13-day trip after swallowing his entire LSD stash during a drug raid. Nevertheless, this compendium justifies a place for intoxicants in literary, philosophical, political, and pop culture through the ages. Those who received a career boost from drugs include Ken Kesey, Andy Warhol (who combated weight gain and fatigue with the equivalent of Adderall), and Sigmund Freud, who recommended cocaine as a therapeutic treatment for morphine and alcohol addiction -- the use of all three undoubtedly influenced both the spectrum of his dream life as well as his sense of its importance. Rock stars, of course, inhabit a place of honor, from David Bowie (whose cocaine use, according to a Berlin transvestite, caused him to give off a particularly foul odor) to Amy Winehouse to the seemingly immortal Keith Richards (whose admission that he once tried to snort his father?s ashes mixed in with a line of cocaine is as inscrutable -- and hilarious -- as ever). Those looking for alternatives to drug use might investigate fasting, running and hyperventilating; or, much less advisably, trepanation (the act of drilling a hole in one?s head). This slim volume is quite useful as a guide to the state of altered states -- though what use one makes of it is, of course, entirely voluntary.

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.