Playing Chicken With Thanatos
by Dire McCain
review by Mark McCawley
Playing Chicken With Thanatos is Dire McCain’s coming-of-age tale chronicling her adolescent descent into drug addiction and the Southern California drug world of the 1980s and 1990s populated by drug dealers, gang members, skinheads, rockers, yuppies, jocks, Ephebophiles (adult sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescent girls, generally 14–16 years old), Pedophiles (sexual interest in minors below the legal age of consent) and other predators.
Playing Chicken With Thanatos is aptly structured into three parts, named after rivers running through Hades — Acheron (woe), Phelegethon (fire) and Lethe (oblivion). Beginning with her own mother’s undiagnosed mental illness and subsequent suicide attempts, followed by her parent’s divorce, added to that the attempted molestation at age 12 by a best friend’s drunk father (along with Dire’s natural adolescent rebelliousness) sowed the seeds of her eventual fall into addiction.