Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Trailer Tuesday: The Light Years by Chris Rush

I was eating acid three or four times a week, watching my own visions, watching those visions blur into the visions of my companions. I saw him speaking but I had no idea what he was saying because I was watching flowers grow out of his head. We were tripping, again. At thirteen, I took acid as often as possible. Taking acid was like entering a painting or a storybook, a glowing dream world, lush and lovely.

That’s from The Light Years by Chris Rush. It is not a novel, it is a memoir. Does knowing this make that one word, thirteen, all that much more shocking? Does it make you squirm in your seat and sit up a little straighter? I hope so.

Chris Rush was busy doing hard drugs at an age when I was still watching Gilligan’s Island on a regular basis and shaking out the contents of a new box of cereal into a large mixing bowl so I could find the small plastic toy inside before my brother did. I couldn’t even spell the word drugs at that age (okay, maybe I could spell it, but I certainly did not know what they tasted like). Granted, I led a sheltered life as the son of our small town’s Baptist minister, but even so, dealing drugs to my junior-high classmates was as alien as little green men from Mars (of which, I’m guessing, Rush saw his fair share during his weekly trips).

Rush is now an acclaimed artist and the drugs are just one aspect of his life, albeit an important one. Here’s more about The Light Years from the publisher:
Chris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. But underneath the gleaming mid-century house, the flawless hostess mom, and the thriving businessman dad ran an unspoken tension that, amid the upheaval of the late 1960s, was destined to fracture their precarious facade. His older sister Donna introduces him to the charismatic Valentine, who places a tab of acid on twelve-year-old Rush’s tongue, proclaiming: “This is sacrament. You are one of us now.” After an unceremonious ejection from an experimental art school, Rush heads to Tucson to make a major drug purchase and, still barely a teenager, disappears into the nascent American counterculture. Stitching together a ragged assemblage of lowlifes, prophets, and fellow wanderers, he seeks kinship in the communes of the west. His adolescence is spent looking for knowledge, for the divine, for home. Given what Rush confronts on his travels—from ordinary heartbreak to unimaginable violence—it is a miracle he is still alive.
As this profile in Vice makes clear, Rush is indeed a survivor:
The book makes him seem otherworldly, but in it and in person, what’s more striking is that he seems to have no fear. He holds complete faith in his ability to survive, his protection by spiritual and otherworldly entities he seems to know personally; he actually seems like he may be one of the aliens whose existence he began pondering as a child. But instead of remaining an outsider, he has come out the other side hyper sane, even enlightened....Rush started selling psychedelics as an underclassman after being fronted a thousand capsules of “the pink LSD” by [drug dealer] Valentine, which he also takes almost daily and fearlessly, thinking of them as a sort of “brain vitamin.”
The trailer for The Light Years is beautiful and haunting and will make you think for the space of one minute, that you’ve just dry-swallowed a handful of brain vitamins. I love the striking, hallucinatory images which pivot off the book’s cover design; they tug and pull you right into your screen and fill you with a sense of otherworldly calmright down to the final words spoken in the trailer: Acid always told me everything would be okay.

Trailer Tuesday is a showcase of new book trailers and, in a few cases, previews of book-related movies.

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