There are four hundred fifty-seven names for heroin. I have learned eighty-two of them. The drug sellers tell me the names, the pushers, the smack heads, the needle-specked little boys pulling their pants down to display their swollen red puds tell me, the girls with the scratches on their arms tell me, sports at McDonald’s tell me, former users tell me, a woman I met at Al-Anon, ex-junkie attending meetings because her boyfriend went back to drugs on her and beat her up, threw her down the stairs, pushed her naked into the street and left her there cowering until by chance a Universal Fellowship soup wagon came by and a (kind) soul gave her a blanket and a quarter for the phone: she tells me; and ex-hippies tell me, and a street preacher from Kansas tells me, and a cop, and a couple of social workers and a Chinese wallpaper salesman going down in flames at a parry in Soma Dahlberg’s penthouse tells me—White Horse, Shiny, Doubloon, Red Day, Flash, Hot jimmy, Alphabet Local, Crank, Pear…
Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Episode 22: “Form and Formlessness”
In an essay specially commissioned for the podcast, Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes rambling around Paris with her father, Lester Sloan, a longtime staff photographer for Newsweek, and a glamorous woman who befriends them. In an excerpt from The Art of Fiction no. 246, Rachel Cusk and Sheila Heti discuss how writing her first novel helped Cusk discover her “shape or identity or essence.” Next, Allan Gurganus’s reading of his story “It Had Wings,” about an arthritic woman who finds a fallen angel in her backyard, is interspersed with a version of the story rendered as a one-woman opera by the composer Bruce Saylor. The episode closes with “Dear Someone,” a poem by Deborah Landau.
Rachel Cusk photo courtesy the author.
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