Akashic Books – Lee Child, Robert Arellano & Bernice McFadden

Lee Child is the editor of The Nicotine Chronicles, a collection of sixteen stories contributed by authors such as Joyce Carol Oates and Cara Black. Robert Arellano and Bernice McFadden, who wrote pieces in the book, joined Child for a recent virtual event at The Poisoned Pen. Lee Child led the discussion. You can find copies of the book, both hardcover and paperback, through the Web Store. https://bit.ly/3i4d4R6

Here is the summary of The Nicotine Chronicles.

Lee Child recruits Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Ames, Cara Black, and others to reveal nicotine’s scintillating alter egos.

“Typically for Akashic–publisher of the terrific Noir series–the stories approach the subject matter from an impressive number of angles…Akashic has yet to produce a dull anthology, and this one is especially good.”

“Sixteen tributes to America’s guiltiest pleasure…Even confirmed anti-smokers will find something to savor.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The most successful entries delve bone-deep into addiction, as characters smoke to smother physical pain, loneliness, and their days…These writers capture the mental gymnastics behind the characters’ bad decisions, and the joy such bad decisions can bring.”
Publishers Weekly

In recent years, nicotine has become as verboten as many hard drugs. The literary styles in this volume are as varied as the moral quandaries herein, and the authors have successfully unleashed their incandescent imaginations on the subject matter, fashioning an immensely addictive collection.

Featuring brand-new stories by: Lee Child, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Ames, Eric Bogosian, Achy Obejas, Michael Imperioli, Hannah Tinti, Ariel Gore, Bernice L. McFadden, Cara Black, Christopher Sorrentino, David L. Ulin, Jerry Stahl, Lauren Sanders, Peter Kimani, and Robert Arellano.

From the introduction by Lee Child:

Food scientists have discovered a complex compound naturally present in, among other things, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. The compound offers us a number of benefits: it improves our fine motor skills; it increases our attention spans; it improves our cognitive abilities; it improves our long- and short-term memories; it lessens depression…In and of itself, it has no real downside. It’s called nicotine. We should all get some.

The problem is the delivery system…The most efficient way is to burn dried tobacco leaves and inhale the smoke. Ten seconds later, the compound is in your brain, doing good in all its various ways. Unfortunately, the rest of the smoke doesn’t do good. And therein lies a great mystery of human behavior. To get the good, we risk the bad. Or we prohibit ourselves the good, for fear of the bad. Which approach makes more sense?


I think you’ll enjoy the conversation about the book, and about the authors’ actions during the pandemic.