Review: Cinnamon’s Sorrow

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Cinnamon's SorrowCinnamon’s Sorrow by Antonio Ramon Apodaca
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are lots of drug stories out there. I’ve certainly read my fair share of them. I wouldn’t say that I enjoy them, but they are certainly compelling. Part of the fun (the inspirational bit, I guess), is watching addicts pick themselves back up. They exist at a low point that I can’t really even fathom for myself, only to defy the odds and shoot to this point of normalcy that, considering the circumstances, is pretty unbelievable.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? That they defy the odds. In order to do that, the chances of getting better have to really be stacked against them, right? For an addict, sobriety is hard. Really hard. In my experience, the majority of people don’t achieve the really difficult goals. This leads me to believe that all the recovery memoirs with their afterwards talking about how the author has been sober for 3 years and it’s hard, but they keep working the steps and they’re making it are anomalous.

For every recovering addict, there must be an absurdly high number of falling or static addicts. Those people who have no intention of getting better or who just never seriously entertain the thought. Cinnamon’s Sorrow introduces you to these people- those for whom recovery isn’t even a thought.

Because the truth is, shit happens when you party on meth. Dudes get shot, women get raped, people die. It isn’t pretty. What I liked about this book was the outsider perspective. See, I’ve never taken meth. I can’t really identify with the experience. I just finished Nic Sheff’s We All Fall Down, and I think he does a pretty good job of describing the actual experience of the drug. But, again, I’m just guessing. It reads convincingly. Really, at the end of the day, I can’t put down a piece of writing on drug experiences and concede that it was an experience. At best, it’s a description of an experience. And that’s not quite the same thing.

Apodaca doesn’t do this. He writes from a relatively outside perspective (it couldn’t be a true outsider or it wouldn’t make any sense). His protagonist takes meth, but reports on it through the lens of time passed. And that makes for a compelling narrative, as the illicit substance still manages to worm its way in there and impact the perception of the characters. Cinnamon, for example, comes across as angelic- though she’s nothing more than a junkie herself. But the way she’s described makes you feel as though she is really, really important, though your brain can never really let go of where she comes from.

It’s the writing, though, that makes this book wonderful. During the last couple of chapters, I couldn’t help but feel like Apodaca was channeling top-of-his-game Kerouac. One of those last pages sent me back in time- somewhere between Big Sur and Tristessa– which is quite a testament to the power of the language. I’ve read Kerouac imitated many a time, and it always fucking sucks. This, though? This was an homage and an original thought rolled into one beautiful chorus of madness and melancholy.

I kind of loved this book. If I ever start an indie publishing company, I’m going to seek this guy out for the opportunity to fund his next venture. I can only really relate Cinnamon’s Sorrow, to K.I. Hope’s hector, a book beautifully written and completely unpublishable by today’s standards. But what about tomorrow’s? I’ll tell you: this shit is legend in the making.

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