In American Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life (Simon & Schuster), a compelling and quick-paced examination of addiction in America, Denizet-Lewis gives us intimate portraits of eight addicts fighting, giving into, living with, and mostly surviving their dragons, demons, and drugs. Among the eight profiled are a crack-addicted grandmother, a sex-addicted college kid, a steroid- and crystal meth-addicted bisexual body builder, and a shoplifting housewife. Together, the eight stories reveal America's dysfunctional relationship with addicts, perhaps best summed up in the Stella Adler quote that opens the third chapter: "A junkie is someone who uses their body to tell society that something is wrong." A sex addict himself, Denizet-Lewis never resorts to sugarcoating, navel-gazing, or proselytizing. He lets the characters tell their stories and shapes them into tight narratives with the insight of an insider. The result is a rare light shone on the private and shadowy world of addiction and recovery.
Tue., Jan. 13, 7 p.m., 2009