Reading Jacob Hoye's Smoke Snort Swallow Shoot is like watching The Avengers of Rock n' Roll, except Captain America is having hallucinogenic sex, Dee Dee Ramone is about to crash the Iron Man suit and the Hulk is off somewhere describing Axl Rose as "conservative" on account that he wasn't so much into orgies.
Hoye’s collection—made up of drug-addled stories taken from the memoirs, biographies and autobiographies of 17 iconic rock legends including Johnny Cash, Marilyn Manson, Lemmy and Marianne Faithfull (to name a few)—reads less like a rose-colored reminiscence of youth and more like a bunch of friends sitting around the camp-fire trying to outdo each other with the most insane drug- and sex-fueled stories they can piece together from their sometimes shattered memories. And in that there is brilliance. Because though drugs are the fuel for each story, they are neither the engine nor the destination. Each story reveals something deeply personal about each artist and how their experiences (both wonderful and terrible) shaped both their music and their perception of the world.
The stories are sometimes twisted, sometimes unbelievable but always thoroughly entertaining. It’s always interesting when one gets to peer inside the personal lives of icons, and it’s even more special when the look we get is so private, sometimes so harrowing, that we see our own vulnerable reflections in the faces of these giants. From the hysterical to the heartbreaking, each story carries a bittersweetness not often seen in rock memoirs—the true price of fame writ large as not always fun but always an adventure. As Hoye goes out of his way to mention several times, "They did it so you don't have to."
That, coupled, with the fact that the book seems tailor-made for those of us with short attention spans (the stories tend to hover around ten pages long each), make it an excellent quick read for anyone interested in music, drug culture and the history of the bold drug-fueled artistic movements of the 20th century, as recounted by the ones who led the charge. In its own subversive way, the book is itself a gateway drug as each story is a rabbit hole that leads down to the full stories and books from which the chapters were taken. In that way, Smoke Snort Swallow Shoot serves as the perfect appetizer to a 17-course meal of bittersweet rock n' roll deliciousness as epic as the names in the table of contents.