The June 26th publication by Random House of Steven Martin’s beautiful and harrowing OPIUM FIEND: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addition is just around the corner, and the memoir is already garnering some great praise.
Steven Martin’s fascinating memoir runs so much deeper than the standard literature about drugs. Whereas most writers never move beyond obsessive descriptions of physical effects, Martin’s true interests are cultural and intellectual: he connects the urge of the drug addict with the compulsion of the art collector. By the end of this book you’ll have a new sympathy for both kinds of fiend.
– Peter Hessler, author of RIVER TOWN, ORACLE BONES and COUNTRY DRIVING
Steven Martin writes with a wit and style every bit as intoxicating as his subject. Entwining endlessly fascinating exotic detail with soul-searing personal revelation, this remarkable author has produced a driving, powerful autobiography unlike any of the countless narco-memoirs cluttering the shelves today. One warning to potential readers: Opium Fiend is the kind of book that makes the rest of the world disappear. It draws you in from the very first page, until you stagger out, blinking at the sun, not sure you ever wanted it to end…. Dim the lights, lock the doors, and prepare to be addicted. The kick’s a bitch but the high is like nothing else in the world.
– Jerry Stahl, author of PERMANENT MIDNIGHT
Opium Fiend is the most engaging memoir of the year. What begins as Steven Martin’s search into the lost history of opium—whose trade was once as consequential to empires as oil is today—becomes a harrowing exploration of the liberating, enlightening and enslaving ecstasies of a forbidden pipe. It’s not so much a tale of addiction, but of self-immolating obsession. While crafting a spellbinding, literary read, Martin never loses focus of his original aim. Opium Fiend stands as a fascinating, never-before told social history of the poppy blossom’s central place in the rise and fall of nations. As addictive as its subject matter, Opium Fiend should come with a warning that it may lead to lost nights and weekends of intensely pleasurable reading.
– Evan Wright, New York Times best-selling author of GENERATION KILL and HELLA NATION
The late Steven Martin was born and raised in San Diego. After four years in the U.S. Navy, he moved to Thailand. A freelance writer, he wrote articles for the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and the Asian edition of Time. He also contributed to guidebooks for Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. Martin gathered one of the world’s largest, most diverse collection of antique opium-smoking paraphernalia, and wrote an illustrated book on the subject, The Art of Opium Antiques. His expertise led to consulting work for museums and films, including HBO’s period drama Boardwalk Empire. Steven died in February 2015.