Opium Eater: The New Confessions
"Then there is the actual taking of the drug. If you don’t get a high from whatever medicine you take, I suppose it is just a medicine. Nobody craves Tylenol or Ibuprofen or Lipitor. If, however, the drug you are taking is really, in your own mind, a drug, all the preparation involved is part of a lovely ritual of anticipation. It has a sort of a pleasant glow of association. Do this, feel that.
As a lifelong non-smoker, a cautious adolescent, and the most sober adult at any party, I have nevertheless been fascinated by intoxication, addiction and altered mental states for as long as I can remember. I don’t think that anyone I know has known that about me. The flame that licks the spoon. The tightening of the rubber strap and the clinical flicking of a tube with the nails of index finger and thumb. The way you hold the cigarette, even, stretching out your fingers, touching your lips as you inhale. It’s all a very private romance."
The Shoe Boy
"The Beaver circles a small lake and begins its descent. I can see the cabin where we will live. Robbie and his sons built it from two-by-fours and plywood earlier in the summer. It has a shingle roof. There’s an outhouse beside the cabin. In front, a group of wooden poles stand in a pyramid, the skeleton of a miichiwaahp. A large green freighter canoe lays overturned on shore.
The pontoons of the Beaver skip across the lake, and we come to a floating rest. The pilot shuts down the prop, and paddles to shore. We unload boxes of canned milk, flour, eggs, toilet paper, gasoline. We carry the food up the small hill to a white canvas maahkii, which sits next to the cabin, on top of a plywood platform to keep mice out. Though the air is cold, I’m sweating as I march up and down the hill with boxes and packs. The plane will return with supplies periodically, but we won’t return to Chisasibi until Christmas. We’re here for almost five months."
Believe in Featherbowling, from the anthology
"A gold Honda CR-V pulls up to the corner of Waveney Street and Cadieux Road just after dinner on a lush autumn night. There are 24 wooden discs in the cargo hold. Each one weighs 5 1/3 pounds — hard sugar maple shaped back in the early 1970s to resemble wheels of Edam cheese. The discs have been meticulously sanded and refinished over the summer with half a dozen layers of polyurethane oil.
The driver, Erik Greer, is one of those kooks who believe in Detroit. Not the chrome-plated motor city that once was, nor the make-believe version the Super Bowl ads say is roaring back. Greer, 56 and moving like an aging shortstop, is the sort of guy who, when the night feels just right, will shout, "Down goes Frazier!" He believes in Detroit. Right now. As is. And if that doesn't make him enough of an anomaly in this world, he also believes in American featherbowling."