Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

Catalog » Browse by Title: H » The Heroin Chronicles

The Heroin Chronicles

Edited by:

The latest entry in the Akashic Drug Chronicles Series. Heroin has long been understood as the most “literary” of narcotics, and this collection will, for better and worse, have tremendous pop cultural appeal.

$15.95 $11.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

“The third and finest Akashic entry yet in its Drug Chronicles series focuses on the enigmatic opium poppy and its various derivatives . . . As the 13 contributors to this all-original anthology reveal, those who partake of the sacred flower are forever changed, but the price of paradise is often steep: overdose, hepatitis C, degradation, self-destruction. Stahl, himself a recovering addict with long-term sobriety, has assembled an impressive array of writers to create this ‘encyclopedia of bad behavior.’ Indeed, these tales of chasing the dragon, with corollaries often violent and savage, will satisfy devotees of noir fiction and outsider art alike.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Editor Stahl (Permanent Midnight) has put forth a gritty, naked collection of short stories on the bleak life of heroin addicts. These tales by such edgy literary writers as Gary Phillips, Lydia Lunch, and Nathan Larson give different voices to the same affliction and do not romanticize the lifestyle or bodily side effects of the drug. While the stories obviously center around current or past users of heroin, they are told from different perspectives and from different economic spheres that keep the stories fresh and above comparison. Stahl quotes William Burroughs, who sums up the anthology quite nicely: ‘it’s not the heroin that’ll kill you, it’s the lifestyle.’ VERDICT A highly graphic and sometimes grotesque read, this anthology will be enjoyed by those who have read the other series titles, The Cocaine Chronicles and The Speed Chronicles. Readers of graphic crime noir would also be interested in this anthology, as some of the stories tend to cross over into the criminal element as well.”
Library Journal

The Heroin Chronicles, the third entry in the [Akashic Drug Chronicles] series, is the finest so far—a collection of short fiction that puts this series on the same must-read category as the Noir Series . . . The Heroin Chronicles is full of stories about suffering, survival, overdoses, hepatitis C, poverty, self-loathing, humiliation, danger, death, degradation, guns, and self-destruction. They’re all told with unflinching sincerity by authors who have either been there or extremely close to it. If you’re familiar with the Drug Chronicles, you know saying this is the best one yet is saying a lot. If you’re not familiar with the series, this is the definitely the book to start with.”
Verbicide Magazine

“Desperate, degrading, wise, witty, these tales of addiction encompass family struggles, failed relationships, dirty sex, overdoses, and the constant drive for drugs that fuels each vein-digging author. Dispelling myths about the glamour of self-destruction, Stahl has chosen stories that are raw and real, focusing on the often bleak hopelessness of addiction, a life lived day to day with the next high as the only real motivator. And though Stahl is secretive about how many of his contributors are clean, still using, or in recovery, each narrative demonstrates a remarkable self-awareness, a revealing tone that allows readers to relate to addiction, even if they have never picked up a needle themselves.”
Interview Magazine

“Not every junkie can write. And not every writer is a junkie. Stahl has assembled a fine roster of ballsy writers who tip their hats in respect to the junkie writer masters who came before them.”
Front & Centre (Canada)

“Like its two predecessors, devoted to cocaine and speed, The Heroin Chronicles confirms how drugs are . . . the basis of some of the most unforgettable fiction you’ll ever read.”

The Heroin Chronicles conveys the sentiment that a life of heroin addiction is a human comedy, but it will usually end in dark or, even worse, banal tragedy.”

“For all the bleakness, suffering, and crime seeping from the pores of this anthology, Stahl welds together a creative whole from disparate voices. Because illegal drugs, especially heroin, are so damaging, it is refreshing to read an anthology focusing on drugs that neither moralizes or condescends to the reader. These stories reflect upon the human damage, one individual at a time.”
CCLaP: Chicago Center for Literature and Photography

“This is a tough crew in these pages, but you will find them human and vulnerable, perhaps more so than your average ‘normal’ functioning being. ‘Junkies are like veterans,’ Stahl writes, ‘or bikers, or cancer survivors, or ex-cons.’ . . . With this posse in tow, Jerry has no need to worry. They have been to the depths and, like Dante on the wrong road, come back to enthrall you.”
New Pages

“Akashic Books once again pushes the boundaries with the newest addition of the Drug Chronicles, The Heroin Chronicles . . . This book is out there, man. The stories are funny, sad, true-to-life, and most of all eye-opening . . . These stories are chaotically beautiful and they will draw you to the authors, forcing you to look for more of their work.”


*Click here for a limited-time Drug Chronicles sale: get your fix of Nicotine, Marijuana, Heroin, Speed, and Cocaine for only $40 (plus shipping)!

A selection of the Akashic Drug Chronicles Series.

Read “Possible Side Effects” by Jerry Stahl and “Ghost Town” by Lydia Lunch, featured as part of Akashic’s celebration of Short Story Month 2013.

Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series (Brooklyn Noir, Boston Noir, Paris Noir, etc.), Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. On the heels of The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.) and The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.) comes The Heroin Chronicles, a volume sure to frighten and delight. The literary styles are varied, as are the moral quandaries herein.

Heroin has long been understood as the most “literary” of narcotics, and this collection will, for better and worse, have tremendous pop cultural appeal.

The latest entry in the Akashic Drug Chronicles Series, featuring brand-new stories by: Eric Bogosian, Lydia Lunch, Jerry Stahl, Nathan Larson, Ava Stander, Antonia Crane, Gary Phillips, Jervey Tervalon, John Albert, Michael Albo, Sophia Langdon, Tony O’Neill, and L.Z. Hansen.

Read interviews with editor Jerry Stahl at LA Weekly, The Pasadena Weekly, and Interview Magazine.

Listen to an interview with Jerry Stahl on BreakThru Radio’s Book Talk with Kory French.

Watch a video of an event for The Heroin Chronicles, featuring Zoe Hansen, Nathan Larson, Lydia Lunch, and Eric Bogosian at St. Mark’s Bookshop:


Book Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Published: 1/1/13
  • IBSN: 9781617751066
  • e-IBSN: 9781453297841


JERRY STAHL has written ten books, including the best-selling memoir Permanent Midnight, made into a movie with Ben Stiller; the essay collection OG Dad; and the novels Pain Killers; I, Fatty; Perv; Plainclothes Naked; Happy Mutant Baby Pills; and Bad Sex on Speed. A Pushcart Prize–winning author, Stahl’s work has appeared in Esquire, Vice, the Believer, Tin House, Los Angeles Review of Books, and the New York Times, among other places. He has written extensively for film and television, including HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn, which earned a Writers Guild Award nomination; Bad Boys II; and the cult classic Dr. Caligari; series credits include Maron, CSI, and Escape at Dannemora, for which he received an Emmy nomination. Stahl’s writing has been widely translated, and he has taught with the InsideOUT Writers program for incarcerated youth, edited The Heroin Chronicles for Akashic Books, and participated in the documentary series, San Quentin Film School. He has two daughters, and lives with artist Zoe Hansen. Nein, Nein, Nein! is his latest book.

More info »