Broken People

Can a tortured soul rewrite his history and free himself from the shackles that have bound him to a life of shame?

Sam is a 28-year-old gay man in Los Angeles, the author of a memoir about drug addiction and several years sober. Despite these accomplishments, Sam lives in a prison of his own mind--an imposter yoked by self-obsession, dissatisfaction with his body and paralyzed by the belief that he is undeserving of true happiness. He doesn't want to die, but rather "coast into a static condition of un-being.... Certainly," Sam fantasizes, "that had to be better than sustained consciousness." When he overhears someone at a party say, "He fixes everything that's wrong with you in three days," Sam figures he has little to lose.

The "he" in question is Jacob, a practitioner of "transdimensional intercession," who uses ayahuasca as the vehicle for transformation. Accompanied by Jacob's chanting and drumming, Sam drinks hallucinogenic tea and embarks on three days of intense self-reflection. The memories that occupy him show flashes of elusive happiness, but more often he's debilitated by shame of his body and the unattainable demands that drove away the men he was close to, especially his true love, Charles. Incapacitated, will Sam find the strength to challenge the stories he's told himself and achieve the happiness that has eluded him?

Lansky's memoir, The Gilded Razor, chronicled his battle with addiction, and he successfully transitions to auto-fiction with Broken People. He disarms readers with incisive observations and sharp humor to counter the constant drumbeat of negative thoughts, and provides hope for those consumed by destructive self-importance. --Frank Brasile, librarian

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