Marvin D. Wilson is a fairly average looking fellow. Great smile, youthful, twinkling eyes, but if you passed him in a crowd he’d pass as a fairly typical fifty-something-year-old grandfather. If I told you that only three years ago he’d been a strung-out crack-head who’d lost his family and nearly his life, you’d be amazed – I was. I Romanced the Stone is the title bestowed upon Wilson’s tell-all account of his rapid descent into drug addiction as well as his subsequent deliverance from it.
From hippie to Buddhist minister and successful entrepreneur, Wilson lays out the background for his fall by relaying the worldview and beliefs that eventually led to his slippery slide into full-blown dependency. With his trademark tongue-in-cheek humor Wilson relates his condescending views of the “Just Say No” war against drugs, yuppies, capitalism, Jesus etc. Life is good for him, secure in his own prejudices, financially comfortable. A sudden economic crisis followed by depression, an extra-marital affair with a prostitute and a single hit from a crack-pipe quickly send his life into a downward spiral.
With a deep desire to expose the dangers of crack cocaine, Wilson delves into the depths of the desperation and depravity he experienced while avoiding graphic details. Readers are made aware of his adultery, the lengths he went to for a hit, the frequency, size of stones and the stupendous difficulties faced while coming clean. Already somewhat familiar with Wilson’s written work through his blog, I was shocked to read his, “five minutes out, holla atcha when I’m gettin’ short.” Somehow I can’t picture him saying that, but then again the man I read now is a completely different fellow from the one he was then.
Wilson does spare us from graphic sex scenes and excessive cursing (though it is used for emphasis, the actual usages must have been much higher.) It should be noted that descriptions of the consumption of crack cocaine are shared with enough detail to enable readers to pick up the ‘works’ – the paraphernalia required to smoke rock cocaine – themselves. The utmost emphasis must be placed upon Wilson’s admonition in the preface, “NEVER TAKE THAT FIRST HIT!” If you know or suspect that a loved one is succumbing to addiction, I advise you read I Romanced the Stone immediately. The first hand account will enable you to watch for signs of dependence and respond firmly and lovingly.
All is not dark, however, and through the courageous faithfulness of a loving family and above all – an encounter with the living God – this man was born anew. Whole healthy, awash in love, restored, forgiven – with God all things are possible.
As a survivor of recreational drugs myself, I’m amazed at the coherence with which Wilson writes. This work was rapidly completed within the ten weeks following the end of his addiction. I did find some awkward phrasing and word choices throughout the book, but when I think back to my own mind-melding experiences with drugs, I’m amazed that Wilson was as equipped to write as his book demonstrates. His ability to write well is nearly as miraculous as his own deliverance!
Written as a brand-new follower of Jesus, Wilson’s conclusions need to be read with some discernment. I remember my deeply flawed understanding of the ways of God at ten weeks post-conversion, and I’m thankful I never wrote them down. I would have resonated with Wilson’s somewhat pluralistic statements mingled with an enthusiasm to introduce others to Christ; I’ve had nearly identical conversations with my own husband a couple of weeks after meeting Jesus. In truth, even now Wilson and I hold wildly divergent doctrinal positions, but I can see God’s hand at work in his life.
While Wilson was already one of the most vibrant personalities I’ve met online, the opportunity to know him better through this autobiographical work has meant much to me. If you’ll journey with him in print I think you’ll feel the same.