Editorial: North Mountain Publishing.
For years, author Sheldon Norberg dealt drugs in the pot hills of Northern California. A scholarship-winning student, he dropped out of UCLA in favor of the overpowering lure of the Grateful Dead and counterculture living. Soon Norberg was making deals and doing drugs all the way from Humboldt to Berkeley. Confessions of a Dope Dealer provides an eye-opening, no-holds-barred account of Sheldon’s life, but it also provides much more. It’s a story of how one man’s quest for transcendence blinded him to what he really needed: simple human acceptance. As Sheldon grows, he comes to see himself and his drug-addled life in new ways; this in turn allows him to analyze the cultural myths and values that surround drugs in America, producing a provocative memoir with a take on drugs like none other
Confessions of a Dope Dealer is the coming-of-age story of Sheldon Norberg. As a bright young suburban kid, Norberg held a typical anti-drug attitude until his early teenage years, when his eldest brother Dave admitted to smoking pot and dropping acid. Initially shocked, Sheldon soon starts experimenting. He discovers a whole new world when visiting Dave at UC Berkeley’s Barrington Hall, an infamous student housing co-op steeped in hippie culture.
At age 13, Norberg moves to Roseville, California, a painfully unhip city near Sacramento, where he befriends the local stoners and realizes the potential of his dope connections in the San Francisco Bay Area. Regular trips to Berkeley keep him and his new buddies in the green: high-quality bud and fat stacks.
Recalling my own childhood while reading this book, I could often relate to Norberg’s struggles as he grew into a young man: grappling with sexual desire and female relationships, rebelling against parents (“Mom found my stash!”), and developing patterns of problematic drug use. Although he goes to college, he’s more interested in partying and dealing drugs than attending classes, and he sees himself as a kind of psychedelic guru for those around him. Norberg recounts his life in thorough and sometimes unflattering detail; multitudes of people are introduced throughout the book as he describes what seems like every individual he ever met. He eventually drops out of school, becomes an outdoor pot grower, and spends his free time following the Grateful Dead.
Norberg’s humor kept me turning pages, eager to see what would happen to him next. My sole criticism of Confessions is that it features an overabundance of characters, making it hard to remember who is who at times. But maybe I was just too stoned.
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