“Thank God for Benoit Denizet-Lewis’s insatiable curiosity. It has resulted in a fascinating book. American Voyeur is about the big issues — sex, identity, religion, death — but is told through small, compelling corners of culture.”– A. J. Jacobs, author of The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment.
“I expected reading American Voyeur to be a guilty pleasure, but Denizet-Lewis’s compassion and involvement swept all the guilt away and left the pleasure!” — Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America
American Voyeur: Dispatches From the Far Reaches of Modern Life is a collection of my previously published writing, including a handful of my cover stories for The New York Times Magazine. Library Journal calls the book “kicky, cutting-edge work to show younger readers who think journalism is dead.” Read more reviews here. In this book I take you inside…
*A summer camp for pro-life teenagers.
*A Boston social group for lipstick lesbians.
*A middle school where a girl secretly lives as a boy.
*A New Hampshire town where two popular young brothers committed suicide.
*A secret subculture for men on The Down Low.
*A fraternity facing the daunting prospect of sobriety.
*A high school where dating is out and “hooking up” is in.
*A San Francisco neighborhood where homeless teens have made a home.
*An organization, the North American Man/Boy Love Association, which badly overestimated the breadth of the sexual revolution.
*A controversial clothing company, Abercombie & Fitch, which has made over the world in the image of its eccentric founder.
*A rural Ohio road where residents changed the name of their street from “Gay Road” to “Green Apple Road.”
“An arresting, personal glimpse into the merciless world of drug and behavioral addiction. All eight of the people (Benoit) followed are gripping subjects, and he describes their plights in seasoned, dexterous prose.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A dazzling portrait of eight addicts and their intimate, sometimes heartbreaking struggle… Addicts will read this book; those who want to understand addiction should read it!”—Susan Cheever, The Daily Beast.
America Anonymous is the story of eight men and women from around the country—including a grandmother, a college student, a bodybuilder, a housewife, and a drug and gambling addiction counselor—struggling to recover from addictions. For nearly three years, I immersed myself in their lives as they battled drug and alcohol abuse, overeating, and compulsive gambling and sexuality. Alternating with their stories is my story of addiction and recovery and my examination of our culture of addiction, where we obsessively search for new and innovative ways to escape the reality of the present moment and make ourselves feel “better.”
Through the stories of Americans in various stages of recovery and relapse, I try to shine a spotlight on our most misunderstood health problem (is addiction a brain disease? A spiritual malady? A moral failing?) and break through the shame and denial that still shape our cultural understanding of it—and hamper our ability to treat it.
Are Americans more addicted than people in other countries, or does it just seem that way? Can food or sex be as addictive as alcohol and drugs? And will we ever be able to treat addiction with a pill? These are just a few of the questions I explore during my journey inside the lives of men and women struggling to get, or stay, sober. As the addicts in this book stumble, fall, and try again to make a different and better life, I do my best to record their struggles—and my own—with honesty and empathy.
Read more about the book, including reviews, at www.americaanonymous.com.