Carl Erik Fisher and Peter Brown
Complex topics for sure. Sounds like an interesting book. Addiction has been so ruthlessly dissected at this point. There’s a big anti-AA movement going on and I understand what underpins it but I think there’re some fundamental misunderstandings around the big book/12-step model versus the actual complex culture of AA.
I wrote about this: https://michaelmohr.substack.com/p/misunderstanding-alcoholics-anonymous
With regard to Brown’s book, I recommend that people read the beginning of St Augustine’s Complete Works. This is a primary source for the period. The stuff about pagans and Roman behavior is not to be emulated and much stronger stuff than one finds in the secondary history accounts. As a writer, I find Augustine’s style (or maybe the translator’s style) interesting.
Addiction is one of the least talked-about competitive urges facing the world of literature. This is one reason why I don't emphasize the need to shove a book into everybody's hand via a heavy-duty marketing strategy. (Though maybe I'm a fool for thinking this) Books are not an addictive substance. (Except, maybe, to bookworms, and I like to think that comes more from passion than addiction) Books cannot compete with a chemical addiction any more than pixie sticks can compete with cocaine. Especially when we have created a world where our addictiveness is perfectly cool, as long as it's the "right" thing to be addicted to. (like smartphones, or social media)
Lance Armstrong said that in order to realize his dream, it was either 1) take the steroids, or 2) give up on the dream. Everybody was doing it, and there was no nuance: it was one or the other. I wonder if literature itself is at a similar crossroads as well? Increase its "addictiveness" somehow, or perish into obscurity? I should explore this in a future post.