By Kathleen "Kathy" Staudt \ Special to the Times
Scott Comar came to the border in 1998 after growing up in New York and Connecticut, where he worked as a cross-country truck driver and furniture mover.
Soon after he arrived in the Juárez-El Paso metropolitan border region, he became addicted to heroin.
With attention to gritty detail, Comar tells the grim story of his chronic heroin-use cycles over a five-year period in "Border Junkies: Addiction and Survival on the Streets of Juárez and El Paso" (Austin: University of Texas Press).
He began by getting a fix on weekends, then once daily, and after that, increasing fixes to two or three times daily as he built up tolerance for heroin, finally surrendering to a daily regimen of a heroin-controlled life. Periodically, he would decide to stop, undergoing detoxification and the misery of withdrawal, but would then re-start the cycle. Finally, in 2003, he was able to stop with assistance from a caring counselor at Aliviane in El Paso.
UT Series editor Howard Campbell calls this book one of many "opiate narratives," examples of which date to the 19th century by writers including William S. Burroughs.
Comar's first-person writing style is direct and refreshing. He fills the narrative with keen observations and musings: riding buses in Juárez, panhandling pitches to Americans and Mexicans, homeless-shelter atmospheres, room-renting etiquette.
Read the full review at elpasotimes.com »