Dr. Isaac Alexis’s second book, THE SEDUCTIVE PINK CRYSTAL, consists of an introduction plus three chapters. Chapter 1 has 64 pages. Chapter 2 has 180 pages. Chapter 3 has 8 pages. Not the most disciplined approach to organizing content.
“Indiscipline” is the theme of this addiction memoir, as well as the hallmark of its style. After a discussion of the uses and health benefits of various crystals throughout human history, we see a young Isaac Alexis witnessing a robbery. This leads to him watching a kid pick his feet in high school. Which leads to Thanksgiving dinner. Which leads to the carpet in his aunt’s house. Which leads to . . . you get the picture. Around page 50, some of these strands come together when we learn that Susan, Alexis’s sister, suffered from an addiction to crack cocaine, aka the “pink crystal” of the title. It destroyed her, turning her into a thief and prostitute before her tragic death. The rest of the book is an amalgam of science, memoir, and Oliver Sacks-esque anecdotes about Alexis’s addiction center patients.
A discursive style can be compelling–look what it did for David Foster Wallace–but there has to be a strong narrative thread uniting the tangents. With Alexis, you get the sense he’s writing whatever comes to mind. This is especially wrong-footing when, amid the narrative, there are passages that sound like something from The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, as when he interrupts a story about driving to pick up his father with a discussion of hyponatremia, which happens when the body retains too much water, diluting the sodium levels.
The typos, peculiar structure, and rambling style dilute the power of this story. Yet it is worth the read. A natural raconteur, Alexis is entertaining, and funny in places. Most of all, he is brave and caring. Despite its serious subject, the book is no dirge; it has an empowering message of hope. Which is what we all need heading into 2020.
THE SEDUCTIVE PINK CRYSTAL by Dr. Isaac Alexis is a messy, exuberant book that turns a scary subject–drug addiction–into a message of hope.
~Anthony Aycock for IndieReader