Michael Lira is a crafty heroin addict with all sorts of sordid things going on. Not only does he manage not to work and always have enough cash for drugs, but his escapades along the way make for a great story.
Sal is Michael’s best friend and partner in crime. Michael and Sal frequent Chicago’s roughest areas to score drugs while their own Wicker Park is being gentrified before their glassy, red, eyes. The guys frequent a pawn shop owned by a tough Polish woman with various items: both stolen and their own, in order to support their habit. Ironically, their favorite hangout is a bar called Spoonful.
Sal’s cousin Dante is their other close friend who loves to party, drinks every day, but doesn’t partake in Michael and Sal’s heroin adventures. Dante dates Lila, an extremely talented artist who works as a stripper and sleeps with Michael in secret. The three guys, along with Lila, Sal’s sort-of girlfriend named Sherry, and a few peripheral characters are into one scheme after another just to survive.
Kenny, a crack-head who binges for days on end, is Michael and Sal’s other partner in what becomes an increasingly more dangerous list of crimes. All of these young characters experience life in harsh ways, live however they want to, and seem to come out on top. That is, until their bright ideas to get money start to dim and flicker out.
Michael hooks up with some college guys, and starts a rather large cocaine racket, which provides a big payout for a while. Then, Michael invests thousands of dollars with a stock scam that leaves him broke. What follows can only be described as painful to watch, but beautifully executed by the author. Downward spiral after downward spiral, life turns into one violent encounter after another, all followed by lots of drugs to forget them. By the end of this story, Michael loses everything and almost everyone in his life.
Chris Mendius has written an epic account of addictive behavior and what people do when there are simply no options left. Spoonful is a wonderful foray into Wicker Park’s gentrification and life below the radar. Michael Lira is a character that stays with you long after the last page is read. A brilliant read that makes one ponder life, love, friendship and nodding off, Spoonful is one book not to be missed.
Reviewed by Keri English for IndieReader