How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z


Cultural criticism masquerading as a heroin memoir masquerading as a dictionary, How To Stop Time looks at American society through the lens of heroin use. Weaving personal history (Marlowe used heroin for eight years) with aphorisms and analysis, Ann Marlowe is unsparing in her exploration of her, and society's, obsession with heroin addiction.

The "A to Z" of the subtitle refers to the alphabetical arrangement of the titles of the brief narrative and philosophical fragments that constitute chapters. Initially, this appears to be a gimmicky stylistic choice, but it emerges as a subtle and clever construction in which form mirrors and illuminates content. In Marlowe's heroin experience pardoxes abound and resemble the way in which the alphabet's orderly and logical appearance belies its arbitrariness.

There is no glamorization of "heroin chic", no cliched scenes of degradation and ecstasy. There is much about craving the validation of danger, suburban childhood, the loss of a father to Parkinson's disease, moving to the East Village, musicians' parties, being cool, and striving to remake yourself.

How To Stop Time is the first book to examine heroin in relation to our cynical, post-consumer society, and the first to explain the profound nostalgia that powers both addiction and our age. Marlowe sheds new light not just on nostalgia but on digital culture, consumerism, and glamour. In the annals of addiction literature it will take its place beside William

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1999


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