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Literature / Ugly Memories

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That morning, when I woke up, I’d already begun feeling dopesick. My nose ran and I couldn’t help but shiver. My poor pupils were large and sad, like Marvin the Paranoid Android’s brain. Everything - from the sun’s rays to my beloved bookshelf - annoyed me, for basically no reason. I needed a fix. Badly.
— the narrator, Paula

Ugly Memories is a novella by ML Lanzillotta. It's about a heroin-addicted freelance writer (Paula Fenice) who gets arrested after the police find syringes in her purse. Her parents find out and send her to rehab. Paula can't help but find this upsetting. She also has autism, which complicates matters.

You can read it here [1].

This book contains examples of:

  • Addiction Displacement: Mentioned. According to one of Paula's mini-rants, junkies sometimes crave chocolate after detoxing. It's apparently a good enough replacement.
  • Brutal Honesty: In the prologue Paula claims to exhibit this.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Even when she's sober Paula can't stop thinking about dope. Everything reminds her of it.
  • Curse of The Ancients: When upset, Paula says things like "Gadzooks!", "ye Gods", or "by Jove". This might be a reference to Shakespeare.
  • Expospeak Gag: Soon before the breakdown that gets her kicked out of rehab, Paula refers to dope as "German cough medicine". That's a reference to the drug's original purpose. In the 1890s, Bayer marketed Heroin as a cough medication and morphine addiction cure.
  • Functional Addict: Paula sees herself as this. We do know she's able to work as a freelance writer whilst using drugs on a daily basis.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Paula's parents force her to quit heroin cold turkey.
  • Gratuitous German: At one point, the main character uses this.
    Paula: I’m a junkie, a druggie, eine fixerin.
  • Hollywood Autism: Averted, thankfully. ML Lanzillotta herself actually has autism. Paula's "odder" behaviors (the meltdowns, her inability to say specific words, and so on) are all based on things the actually author does.
  • Manchild: Mason seems a bit too childlike, for an adult.
  • Nailed to the Wagon: Paula's parents force her to detox.
  • Parents as People: Mr. and Mrs. Fenice are far from perfect.
  • Reference Overdosed: Paula keeps bringing up movies and books and bits of history - some more obscure than others. Also, fragments of song lyrics occasionally appear in the narration.
  • Sanity Slippage: Both Paula and her mother slowly start to loose it near the end, due to severe sleep-deprivation.
  • Spiritual Successor: In some ways Ugly Memories is this to Eighteen Days To Graduation. Both star young, eccentric women partly named after Hunter S. Thompson expies that happen to be based on ML Lanzillotta herself. Both contain lengthy, semi-political internal monologues. Both reference pop culture exceedingly often. Even the narration styles seem similar.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Judging by certain scenes, Paula might be one.