Monday, April 11, 2005

DUCK BLOOD SOUP, by Joseph Molea (iUniverse)

I'm not sure why, but I have many an addiction book in my library--in every shape and size: Memoir (PERMANENT MIDNIGHT, A MILLION LITTLE PIECES, etc.) and fiction (REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, etc.) But there is one that stands out in my collection--and wouldn't you know: it was a POD title.

DUCK BLOOD SOUP by Joseph Molea, MD is most disturbing, as it tells the story of addiction from a doctor's point of view--as in, the doctor has the addiction. Surprising? Not really. We read about how overburdened folks in the medical industry are (especially the young ones) and how difficult it is to get by. What sticks with you here is how sharply the addiction takes the doctor, and how his awareness of his situation links right back to his training as an MD. Molea's writing is excellent (this work is literary, for sure) and he never forgets how to pin the urgency of an addict:

"Standing over Vince like that, watching him fiddle with the paraphernalia without intervening, made me sweat. Watching some fat slob fumble with drugs and needles and vials, seeing his thick stubby fingers contaminate the syringe, watching the needle come off in the stopper of the vial just to get a taste myself, made my stomach flip. Medicine is an art. Finesse draws medication into a syringe as much as suction. I could have done it myself in a heartbeat. He took forever to perform a simple medical procedure I could do in my sleep. Watching him atoned for my sin: letting a thief in the temple. Vince embarrassed me. This bothered me, but I did it anyway. I deserved him."

The book is played off as fiction, yet Molea references his own life/training/experiences and, in the Author's Note, asks specifically that he not be judged as an autobiographer. Indeed, not a bad idea when you consider the protagonist of the story lets someone die as a result of the drug use.

The story clearly comes across as memoiresque. Molea pushes the story back and forth in time and the reader gets a firm grasp on what led the protagonist (Rocky) to be weakened to the idea of drugs (pain killers, by the way) in the first place.

There is more than enough here to chew on. In fact, it's a full meal.

Highly recommended. You'll never go to the doctor again.