I have to admit that when I heard about this book, I just knew that I had to read it. It is billed as a novel, but has some autobiographical aspects to it, and the subject is street drugs. The world of the addict is not a pretty one. I know that first hand. Oh, no, don’t get me wrong, other than a few skirmishes with pot back in the early 70’s I have stayed clear of them. My knowledge comes from working with addicts for over six years in a recent job. This murky subculture is one full of pain and anguish.
I read What Are You Turning Me Into with a good deal of interest. I think the first observation that the book is written with great anger, the anger shows through on every page. It is the same anger that I have seen in real life. The addict is often angry, at himself, at his family, his friends, even the world in general. The world is his enabler, yet the world is his destroyer. The world has much to atone for!
My second observation, and I will prefix this with the disclaimer that I am not a trained mental health professional, is that Armando is almost certainly Bipolar. The story reveals all of the classic traits, periods of manic euphoria, combined with a seemingly instant decent into depression.
I always explain to authors, and everyone else, I am a reviewer, not a critic. Critic’s in my mind are evil creatures. They love to shed the works of others. But, there is a small part of me that does look at the technical aspects of any work. This book has typos, and bad type setting. This combination usually results in my poor wife having to listen to my well practiced, and lengthy, rant about Authors, Editors, and a diatribe about the entire publishing industry!
This time though, I took them in my stride, the book is about the story, not how pretty it is. In fact the flaws add a level of commitment to the story that might well have been lost had it gone through the normal ‘pulp mill’ that the publishing industry has become.
What Are You Turning me Into is a very bitter book, it flits from reality to dreams, it flits from the here and now, to the past. It has an urgency about it that you rarely find in the written word. This urgency is contagious, you just can not wait to turn to the next page.
Armando Aldazabal has much to get off his chest, and I do believe this book has gone far to achieve that. Now in his mid thirties he has escaped from the nightmares that were his life.
What You Are Turning Me Into is a stark look at a world that most people do not understand. The world of the addict is not an enviable one. I think this book is a graphic example of the lifestyle and the mentality of this nether world.
Some of the passages made my blood run cold. The need to inflict self damage, the need to drive those that love you away. Yet clinging to near strangers for their understanding. In keeping with many real stories I have heard, AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) can be a double edged sword. Peppered liberally with doses of religion the 12 step program leaves some real doubts in my mind. Armando makes numerous references to AA, and while they can be taken in different ways, I walked away with the feeling that it is not an organization that he places much stock in.
The Armando in the book was an angry young man, but I am not sure where his anger was pointed, it may be at himself, it may be at the world in general. The one thing that I do know is that he has moved on from that period of his life. He is about to get married to his soul mate Jaime, and is the happy provider for a family with 5 children.
I enjoyed this book because of its stark reality, you can order your copy from Amazon.