What I’m Reading: The Cocaine Chronicles

A book I recently picked from my vast stacks of books to be read is The Cocaine Chronicles, edited by Gary Phillips and Jervey Tervalon.


This book is part of the Drug Chronicles series, published by Akashic Books. In this series, each book contains a collection of short stories dedicated to one of the four most popular drugs in our society (cocaine, marijuana, heroin, speed). I just happened to pick up coke the other day, though most folks I know have partaken of weed (and still do–maybe that’s why I’ll probably save that one for last LOL). Maybe it was because I once dated a cocaine addict and am still trying to process that past relationship. Look for him to show up as a character in future books.

The Cocaine Chronicles contains stories from bestselling novelists, such as Lee Child (he of the Jack Reacher novels), and some not as popular. The stories are very gritty, almost noir-ish (indeed, the Drug Chronicles were a jumpoff from Akashic’s even more popular Noir series, which is set in various cities and countries worldwide).  Lots of cursing, ethically ambiguous situations,  morally flexible people, illness, death–just what you’d expect from stories about drug abuse, drug trafficking, and the like.  The characters are more nuanced that what one may see on law enforcement TV shows (e.g. Graceland, one of my favorites), and showcase the many facets of cocaine: powder, crack, and variations such as speedballs (cocaine cooked with heroin or morphine, then injected). The stories explore all levels of drug society: coke mules, coke dealers, coke addicts, drug cops (local and federal), drug incarceration, rehab and the people who loathe it. And overdoses. Can’t have gritty drug stories without someone OD’ing, especially with harder drugs such as cocaine.

I’m attracted to not-so-pretty stories, so I’m enjoying them so far. Although, some of the authors have me giving them the side-eye for their dialogue and vocabulary (please don’t rely on rap videos, and viewings of New Jack City or Traffic, as your source for street drug lingo. Thanks.). Anyway, it’s an interesting read. Check it out.

Thanks for stopping by.