A couple of weeks ago I had the honour of speaking at the launch of Geoff Brown's (authorial name G.N. Braun) excellent memoir/autobiography. The book is written in a straightforward, almost novelistic style (the term these days is 'creative non-fiction') that neither romanticises/glorifies the world described nor moralises about it (in the simplistic sense of 'good v evil' one often finds in the mass media). The book spares us no punches as it explores the author's long-term addiction to a range of drugs including speed and heroin. The narrative voice is even and understated with very little 'telling' (read: 'extraneous moralising after the event') as Braun lures us into the strange twilight world that is Melbourne's underground drug culture.
Braun builds our attachment to (and empathy for) the narrator via devices often used by fiction writers before proceeding to test that attachment/empathy as the narrator descends during his late teenage years into addiction and petty crime. Moral ambiguity abounds adding to the central drama and drawing us further into the text - provoking surprising emotions at every turn.
The Central Victorian launch of Hammered was partly sponsored by the Bendigo Writers' Council and was well attended culminating in a Q & A session with the author at the end in which Geoff spoke of his wish that the book might help better inform not only those in the grips of life-threatening addictions but also their loved ones who are often in despair at the self-destructiveness often accompanying such conditions. 'If there is one thing I'd like loved ones to take from the book it's the message that you should never give up on a family member or friend going through these kinds of experiences ... no matter how far gone he or she may appear to be ..'
Braun's existential starkness reveals a deep humanity as well as a profound fascination with the puzzle that is humanity in extremis. This book has after-resonance - highly recommended!
To purchase go to Hammered: Memoirs of an Addict at Amazon.com.
See also a recent Bendigo Advertiser article on G.N. Braun's book: Hammered article.