By Moshe Kasher
Grand Central Publishing, $24.99, 320 pages
Moshe Kasher has penned a memoir that is equal parts heart breaking and inspirational. Kasher In The Rye is his attempt to make sense of – and shed – his demons while explaining how everything went so very wrong in his life. The result is simply jaw dropping.
“I’m not sure what happens to normal people when they get high for the first time. I assume that they get high, feel delighted, and think, ‘That was soul stimulating. I feel enlightened but not overwhelmingly so. I await another appropriate occasion for mind expansion in a reasonably far-off time, when I will make a conscious and mature decision to take a mood-altering substance again.’
“Not me. I realized in that little high sambo slam-dance circle, right before I melted into hemp butter, that I never wanted not to be high again. I would do whatever it took to get high forever, all the time, for the rest of my life. I was twelve years old and I’d found my calling. Stay high, stay drunk, at all costs.”
Growing up in Oakland, CA, Moshe Kasher never quite fit in. A Jew in a Christian home. A white kid in a black school. A drug addict in an affluent middle school. Everywhere Moshe went, it seemed he just could not fit in. That is, until he discovered booze. Then drugs. Then stealing. Life would never be the same again.
Kasher really opens the door for people to see what it actually is like to be so desperately addicted to a substance that nothing else matters; how it feels to literally live for the high. Non-addict readers will be shocked. Readers who’ve shared in this struggle will feel a kinship of empathy for Moshe.
While the writing is relatively pedestrian – and the big F-bomb is dropped into every other sentence – the story carries the reader through some of less than stellar prose. I would recommend this to all.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Raymond