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Damned with Faint Praise
on 7 October 2012
I agree with previous reviewer Miss Suzanne Mann - this book is well-written and it does not include the standard cliches and tricks to evoke sympthy. It isn't sentimental in the least. It is a fairly factual chronological true account of one man's drug addition and where it led him. The author accepts full responsibility for his drug problem and reflects upon and draws from his experiences honestly.
It is written in a fairly basic, sparse format - you see strings of names but none of them stick in your mind as they aren't described much, other than the author's girlfriend. I suppose this is intentional or at least accurate, as he does seem to have met a great many people through his life and as a result of his drug habit(s), but many of them are just passers-by, not major characters in the story of his life. They're part of a chapter in his life and in the book, and then they're gone. Such is the life of an addict.
One thing I did particularly enjoy, as Brit, was the probably-unintentional inclusion of some quality Aussie lingo. If you've ever impersonated a character on Neighbours, you too may enjoy this. It's refreshing to see a drug story based in Australia as the ones I have read previously have been in America or Britain, possibly one in Europe. The cultural contrasts are evident and it all seems rather pleasant and friendly, even despite the lying in a pool of mystery fluid at the beginning and the threats of violence at one point in the middle. In fact, it's the police that come across as really nasty, but then I suppose that would be the case, as the book is written by the criminal in that situation.
I can't really criticise this book at all - I have nothing particularly bad to say about it. It didn't annoy me. I read it all the way through in one sitting but it wasn't a page-turner. The writing is clear and well-edited. It's not full of hyperbole, repetition or self-pity. But unfortunately, I will have to damn it with faint praise. It just didn't grab me, I suppose. Perhaps the matter-of-fact style was the reason, or the reasonably even 'plot' (it's not really a plot - it's his life - but I'm not sure of the right word to use. The sequence of events had no mountains or chasms, it was just mildly hilly.) It didn't excite me or draw me in or make me think deep thoughts or anything at all.
It's certainly a story that others who suffer or have suffered from drugs could stand to read and benefit from. There's an inspirational achievement on the part of the author by the end. It's a very human story but it didn't make my heart strings sing sad violin songs.