Monday, April 13, 2009

genius and heroin

An almost disturbingly entertaining book I'm currently reading, by the expressive and thought-provoking writer Michael Largo. Full name: Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, and Reckless Abandon Through the Ages.

Did you know...

Freud was addicted to coke? That Stephen Crane survived 30 hours at sea after his boat sunk? Zelda Fitzgerald was also a writer -- many things for which F. Scott received literary credit had been lifted verbatim from her journals? And that caffeine is more addictive than alcohol?

Yeesh. And I'm only up to the letter F!

When I visited my sister in February, I picked up this book at American Eagle for a measly $1.90. But it is worth its full price of $15.95. If you have ever been fascinated by what drives people to create, and what also drives them to the edge, this is the book is for you. The writers, scientists, artists, comedians, doctors, and others Largo has densely chronicled all succumbed to their obsessions or addictions. I think the only person who could have done this book better is Mary Roach.

This book is an upper and a downer, all in one (so to speak.) While reading this encyclopedia of deaths, I also came across titles of at least six books I want to read, one play I want to see, and two works of art I plan to research, in addition to ruminating on what else Marie Curie could have achieved had she not died of radiation poisoning. Phew! What a book. I highly recommend it. But! Please read in small doses, lest you become obsessed as well...

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