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Guide Rehab Blues: A Novel

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He remembers the last day he saw his mother while on leave from the army, when she told him to watch out for his brother. She told him that when his father was a young man, he watched his own brother get run down by a car full of white men who never bothered to stop. Sonny told his brother about his dream of becoming a jazz pianist, which the narrator dismissed.

REHAB FOR ONE-HIT WONDERS by George Traikovich | Kirkus Reviews

Sonny reluctantly agreed to do so. Although Sonny loved the music, the rest of family had a hard time bearing his constant practicing.

While living with his sister-in-law, Sonny got into trouble for skipping school. He tried to hide the truancy letters, but one eventually made it to the house. After two days, Sonny joined the navy.

After one especially difficult fight, Sonny told his brother that he could consider him dead from that point on. Each week, our editors select the one author and one book they believe to be most worthy of your attention and highlight them in our Pro Connect email alert.

Rehab Blues A Novel

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A sometimes-perplexing but always diverting psychological tale. Email address:. As George H. This vision of the addict—as an agent of betrayal, undermining the shared social project—has been an enduring character in what the criminologist Drew Humphries calls the drug-scare narrative.

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It happened not only with black cocaine use in the early twentieth century—fear-mongering was used to drum up support for the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, which regulated and taxed the distribution of opiates and cocaine—but with Chinese immigrants and opium in nineteenth-century California; with Mexicans and marijuana in the nineteen-thirties; with black heroin use in the nineteen-fifties; with the inner-city crack epidemic of the nineteen-eighties; with the rise of meth in poor white communities at the turn of the twenty-first century. Other meaningful narratives have been relegated to the margins.

When I started researching literary accounts of addiction, I quickly realized how white most of them were, and how male: from the modernist drunks Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, F. Why not? And it was difficult to find out much about Cain himself—about how his addiction had both fuelled and thwarted his creative life—besides a single obituary, in the Times, published after Cain died of complications from liver disease in October, , just shy of his sixty-seventh birthday.

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The novel is a love song to Harlem and also a picaresque of scoring and trying to quit. His parole officer has also threatened to send him back to prison if he fails a urine test in seventy-two hours. Cain resists respectability politics at every turn—by presenting a character who is smart and full of yearning, but often acts aggressively, even callously.


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But she was glad to talk to me about his troubled brilliance. So he deliberately went out to find some. He always walked around with two or three composition books tucked under his arm, full of notes for his novel. He even took them to Harlem whenever he went uptown to buy drugs.

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After Pool and Cain had their first child, he lived two lives. In one, he was trying to be a more present father.

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He became a Sunni Muslim and joined a mosque that was like a surrogate family. But he would also disappear for days at a time—go up to Harlem and come back glazed. One time, he had a few friends over and while Pool was in the bathroom his friends took off with half her clothes and armfuls of their baby supplies.