by Joyce Lavene
There is nothing sugar-coated in this novella about addiction in the fast-changing world after 9/11. Even the sculptures of wood and stone by Agop Gemdjian made me think of how people felt after 9/11 – staring at the world with blank faces, trying to figure out what had happened.
The novella is set up as a series of essays by author Briglia. They are delivered at a clear, frank, high rate of speed that could be likened to a cocaine buzz. The essays are obsessed with self and hard to define as we see the author’s friends and strangers he meets along the way from Vancouver, BC to New York. Briglia goes from describing his early time with alcohol to marijuana, coke and heroine. It seems to be the classic tale of one man’s ruin.There’s something more here. Briglia’s insights are like razors, cutting away the things no one needs anyway. His words are memorable, especially his descriptions of cocaine. It won’t be a tale I forget anytime soon.As for who should read Fires of 2011 – I’d say it should be on every high school reading list. These words and events shouldn’t be condemned, but learned from. Forget the DARE program. Let teenagers read this and decide their paths.
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