(Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file)

Pot world of today missing from “The Marijuana Chronicles” (book review)

The Marijuana Chronicles short stories
“The Marijuana Chronicles” (Akashic Books)

I really hoped that a contemporary collection of short stories such as “The Marijuana Chronicles,” which states as its mission to “keep the flame of pot literature burning bright,” would foster reflections of how we actually live today with marijuana.

I wanted to read about rat-race professionals who prefer puffing through happy hour over sipping martinis, and medical caregivers who brighten tough days for seriously sick people by packing their pipes or preparing their favorite pot-infused recipes.

I wanted these short stories to include relatable characters that those of us lucky enough to live in places where cannabis can now mostly be consumed without persecution, recognize as a social and political majority.

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That’s where this book fell short.

Its editor, Jonathan Santlofer, is a native New Yorker, accomplished novelist and artist. He writes that his interest in compiling a collection of marijuana-themed short stories stems from the recent dramatic shift in national pot politics. “I could never have imagined the decriminalization of my generation’s forbidden fruit,” writes the graying Santlofer.

With contributions from Lee Child, Joyce Carol Oates, Abraham Rodriguez and many other famed writers, Santlofer has assembled an impressive ensemble of literary talent for “The Marijuana Chronicles.” Together they construct an homage to fun, themed fiction.

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But too often these expertly-woven threads promote stereotypical pot characters like “trustafarians” who turn cannabis-fueled carousing into a vocation, or prim-and-proper elders who spent so many years doing good that a first, late-in-life toke gives them a sweet taste of being bad.

These stories smack of a perspective in which pot is still stigmatized, illicit and illegal. Because in most places, it still is.

Sure, stereotypes stem from some, ahem, nugget of reality. But today’s world of weed bears little resemblance to Cheech and Chong’s ’70s, Jeff Spicoli’s ’80s, or even The Dude’s ’90s.

This anthology simply leaves too many of today’s marijuana tales untold.

“The Marijuana Chronicles,” edited by Jonathan Santlofer (Akashic Books, 2013).
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