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The Speed Chronicles

Edited by:

Following the international success of the Noir Series, this volume marks the launch of a new drug-based sister series.

$15.95 $11.96

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

“Akashic launches a new series of crime anthologies, each focused on a different controlled substance, with this addictive volume.”
Publishers Weekly

“All told, The Speed Chronicles deserves great praise for the audacity of the topic, the depth of the discussion, the diversity of its voices, and plain, old, good storytelling.”
New York Journal of Books

The Speed Chronicles represents a surprising range of experiences. The promise of the collection is that it will neither vilify nor romanticize its subject matter.”
The Portland Mercury

“The contributors to The Speed Chronicles amply demonstrate the paradox of life under the influence of chemically induced acceleration. At the best moments, the use of stimulants can celebrate the beauty and intensity of human experience. As some of these stories reveal, despite the mainstream cultural narrative of ‘tweakers’ as amoral zombies, the persistent will to live in the face of adversity and affliction is a hallmark of many addicts’ lives.”
The Rumpus

“The perfect stocking stuffer for your uncle in AA.”
New York Observer

“Just reading the table of contents for this fucker makes me want to hop in my time machine, zoom back to 1966, and find those two dubious physicians who used to write me scripts for Dexedrine, even though I was too tall and skinny to live already. Mainline this book now!”
—James Ellroy

Critical praise for Joseph Mattson:

“Joseph Mattson is one hell of a motherf**king writer.”
—Jeff Garlin, author of My Footprint: Carrying the Weight of the World and costar/executive producer of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm

“Joseph Mattson writes like a guitar player with nineteen fingers—everywhere at once, stinging, dark, and beautiful.”
Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight and Pain Killers

“As Rolling Stone once said about Public Enemy, Empty the Sun doesn’t just break new ground—it’s become the new ground to break.”
LA Record on Empty the Sun

“Mattson offers a new spin on the noir genre in Empty the Sun . . . The author is a master of discrete observation, yet, in the same moment, can level a word-loaded shotgun at your face and indiscriminately pull the trigger . . . Packed with witty, subtle dialogue and cascades of bold, apropos descriptions, Empty the Sun is an unquestioned feast of language. Were you to underline every jaw-dropping, humorous, or incredulous line contained in this gem of a book, your pencil would run out of lead halfway through.”
Rain Taxi Review of Books


*Click here for a limited-time Drug Chronicles sale: get your fix of Marijuana, Heroin, Speed, and Cocaine for only $30 (plus shipping)!

James Franco answered 13 questions for Akashic’s Literary Lions feature. Read his answers here.

Read “Amp is the First Word in Amphetamine” by Joseph Mattson and “How to Go to Dinner with a Brother on Drugs” by Natalie Diaz, featured as part of Akashic’s celebration of Short Story Month 2013.

A selection of the Akashic Drug Chronicles Series.

Featuring brand-new stories by Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, James Franco, Megan Abbott, Jerry Stahl, Beth Lisick, Jess Walter, Scott Phillips, James Greer, Tao Lin, Joseph Mattson, Natalie Diaz, Kenji Jasper, and Rose Bunch.

Speed: the most demonized—and misunderstood—drug in the land. Deprived of the ingrained romantic mysticism of the opiate or the cosmopolitan chic of cocaine or the mundane tolerance of marijuana, there is no sympathy for this devil. Yet speed—crystal meth, amphetamines, Dexedrine, Benzedrine, Adderall; crank, spizz, chickenscratch, oblivious marching powder, the go-fast—is the most American of drugs: twice the productivity at half the cost, and equal opportunity for all. It feels so good and hurts so bad. From its dueling roots of pharmaceutical miracle cure and Californian biker-gang scourge to contemporary Ivy League campuses and high school chem labs, punk rock clubs to the military-industrial complex, suburban households to tin-can ghettos, it crosses all ethnicities, genders, and geographies—from immigrants and heartlanders punching double factory shifts to clandestine border warlords, doctors to bomber pilots, prostitutes to housewives, T-girls to teenagers, Academy Award–nominated actors and the mansion on the hill to the poorest Indian on the rez—making it not only the most essentially American narcotic, but the most deceivingly sundry literary matter.

The subject of speed is so innately intimidating yet so undeniably present that it begs to be written about. It is no secret that the drug has historically tuned up the lives of writers, including Jack Kerouac, Susan Sontag, Philip K. Dick, and scores more. Too rarely, though, has it been written about, and its jolt to the bones of the American landscape continues to peak. Akashic Books dares to bring forth the first contemporary collection of all new literary short fiction on the drug from an array of today’s most compelling and respected authors. These are no stereotypical tales of tweakers—the element of crime and the bleary-eyed, shaky zombies at dawn are here right alongside heart-wrenching narratives of everyday people, good intentions gone terribly awry, the skewed American Dream going up in flames, and even some accounts of pure joy.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Published: 11/29/11
  • IBSN: 9781617750281
  • e-IBSN: 9781453259382


JOSEPH MATTSON is the editor of The Speed Chronicles and the author of the story collection Eat Hell and the novel Empty the Sun (A Barnacle Book), which was a finalist for the 2010 SCIBA Fiction Award. He lives in Los Angeles.

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