In Daniel McGhee’s world, there is nothing outside of heroin: the search for heroin, the violence surrounding heroin, prison sentences for the sale of heroin, and finally, for many of his friends, death from heroin.
McGhee was a young teenager when he began using alcohol. That rapidly turned to marijuana and, as quickly, and firmly, heroin. He was a high school dropout. His parents threw him out. He was a street thug, beating people for money to buy drugs. CHASING A FLAWED SUN follows McGhee’s life into his 20s, through his imprisonments, failed attempts to kick his drug habit, lost jobs, relationships and rejection by his family and the few non-junkie friends he once had. McGhee is anxious to show his whole big bad self. He is such a desperate junkie that he even once swiped a check from a church pastor who was attempting to help him. He becomes an excellent thief, stealing electronic goods from stores, food from supermarkets and drugs from other druggies.
CHASING A FLAWED SUN can be a difficult book to read, intense and painful. The reader sees a once ordinary young man from a decent family crumble into something barely human. The writing is not fancy, but it is crisp and clear. McGhee spotlights the failures of the criminal-justice system as he is given one break after another by judges, who reduce his sentences even on serious assault charges. Mall police let him in, even after he is caught red-handed with the goods. His parents seem flummoxed as to what to do with him. Which brings us to the fact that the book, as is, could have been shorter. The reader certainly understands the depths of McGhee’s depravity after a more than 150 pages. Repeated scenes of violence become redundant, and the reader is almost inured to it all.
The story ends when McGhee gets out of yet another cop jam and into a motel room where he retreats under the covers of a bed with him promising to start anew. The next time the reader sees him, ten years have elapsed, and he is in a temazcal, a sweat lodge where curative ceremonies thought to purify the body are performed. McGhee tells us he is indeed drug free, but leaves us mystified as to how this came to be. Nonetheless, CHASING A FLAWED SUN is well-worth reading, mostly for the clarity and the close-up view it provides of one of the most unfortunate landscapes of our modern society.
Daniel McGhee captures his life of drug abuse, homelessness, violence and death in CHASING A FLAWED SUN, a no-holds barred memoir that is both raw and riveting.
~James Bernstein for IndieReader