Wasting Talent by Ryan Leone – Reviewed by Guy Portman
Young guitar virtuoso Damien Cantwell is a member of a band in Southern California. Damian is talented, popular and good looking, but has a drug problem. He started drinking and smoking at a tender age, and his substance abuse now consists of a dizzying array of drugs, most notably a fully-fledged heroin addiction, which dominates his life.
Damian is constantly searching for his next fix to ward off the ever-present threat of dope sickness. Along the way there are numerous sordid amorous encounters, and interactions with a plethora of characters, including gay neo-Nazis with some remarkably offensive yet imaginative tattoos, raver chicks, a pregnant junky and countless drug dealers. Later there is a passionate and turbulent relationship with a party girl called Blair.
Wasting Talent is a raw, visceral, amoral and intensely personal tale about the dark side of drugs, in which the reader is able to empathise with the protagonist despite his relentless self-destructive, irresponsible and egoistical behaviour, due to his humour and intelligence.
Ryan Leone utilises innovative writing techniques and a frenetic and at times poetic prose style to adeptly weave this graphic and poignant story. Though this derelict, intense and depressing book is not for everyone, this reader would highly recommend Wasting Talent to fans of the transgressive genre.