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Junky (Essential Penguin) Paperback – 25 Feb 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 Feb. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140282696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140282696
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 1.3 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 190,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description

Review

"Reads today as fresh and unvarnished as it ever has."-Will Self on "Junky" "Of all the Beat Generation writers, William S. Burroughs was the most dangerous. . . . He was anarchy's double agent, an implacable enemy of conformity and of all agencies of control-from government to opiates."--"Rolling Stone" "The most important writer to emerge since World War II. . . . For his sheer visionary power, and for his humor, I admire Burroughs more than any living writer, and most of those who are dead."--J.G. Ballard "William was a Shootist. He shot like he wrote--with extreme precision and no fear."--Hunter S. Thompson "A book of great beauty . . . . Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius." --Norman Mailer "Ever since "Naked Lunch" . . . Burroughs has been ordained America's most incendiary artist."--"Los Angeles Times" "Burroughs voice is hard, derisive, inventive, free, funny, serious, poetic, indelibly American."--Joan Didion "In 1953, at the height of American conformism and anti-communist hysteria, William S. Burroughs published "Junky," an irresistible strung-out ode to the joys and perversities of drug addiction. . . . "Junky" eschews allegory for scrupulous realism. . . . More than anything else, "Junky" reads like a field guide to the American underworld."--"The Daily Beast" "Retro-cool, like something Don Draper might find in the Greenwich Village pad of that reefer-smoking painter he was seeing in the first season of Mad Men."--"Las Vegas Weekly" on "Naked Lunch" "A creator of grim fairy tales for adults, Burroughs spoke to our nightmare fears and, still worse, to our nightmare longings. . . . And more than any other postwar wordsmith, he bridged generations; popularity in the youth culture is greater now than during the heady days of the Beats."--"The Los Angeles Times Book Review" "Burroughs seems to revel in a new medium . . . a medium totally fantastic, spaceless, timeless, in which the normal sentence is fractured, the cosmic tries to push its way through the bawdry, and the author shakes the reader as a dog shakes a rat."--Anthony Burgess on "The Ticket That Exploded" "In Burroughs' hands, writing reverts to acts of magic, as though he were making some enormous infernal encyclopedia of all the black impulses and acts that, once made, would shut the fiends away forever."--"The New York Times" on "The Ticket That Exploded" "Macabre, funny, reverberant, grotesque."--"The New York Review of Books" on "Nova Express" "Hypnotic; I wish I could quote, but it takes several pages to get high on this stuff. . . . Funny . . . outrageous along the lines of Burroughs's well-established scatology. He can think of the wildest parodies of erotic exuberance and invent the weirdest places for demonstrating them."--"Harper's Magazine" on "Nova Express" "One of the most interesting pieces of radical fiction we have."--"The Nation" on "The Soft Machine" "In Burroughs' hands, writing reverts to acts of magic, as though he were making some enormous infernal encyclopedia of all the black impulses and acts that, once made, would shut the fiends away forever."--"The New York Times" on "The Wild Boys" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

William S. Burroughs is the author of numerous works, including Junky, Naked Lunch, Interzone, The Cat Inside and the trilogy consisting of Cities of the Red Night, The Place of Dead Roads and The Western Lands. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

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First Sentence
My first experience with junk was during the War, about 1944 or 1945. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By t.welch@virgin.net on 22 Nov. 2000
Format: Audio CD
Burrough's account of life as a heroin user really comes to life in spoken word form, as the author's reptilian diction wrings every last drop of croaked and strung-out junk sickness from the page.
Notorious for accidentally shooting his wife dead in Mexico during a crazy William Tell routine, William Burroughs is the author of countless books, most of which are largely unreadable, aside from his two early semi-autobiographical works, 'Queer', and 'Junky', which recount his experiences as a homosexual drug user during a time in America when being either of these things was to be a social leper.
A disturbing, yet occasionally humourous tale of a life lived at the more bizarre extremes of experience, 'Junky' is essential listening for anyone interested in either the Beat Generation or drug culture, and is a good starting point for Burroughs novices.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
A sad book in many respects, returning back to read it again after first dissecting his sons book "Speed." Junior tried to emulate his father and was cast in his shadow. A baleful cruel shadow it appears as his mother had her own self medication issues as did his father documenting them here. Although Burroughs Senior appears to have no emotional insight into his "condition" whatsoever. Life is just about "kicks" is what he buys into, a form of outsider who lives against the rules, someone who never bought the dream.

An easy feat if your parentage involved inventing the adding machine and the monetary legacy cushioned the effects of choice. The influence of Burroughs was seemingly at its height in the 1980's where he was feted as a type of cultural relic. Someone who had lived on the fringes and thrived. Here he exposes himself, as an outsider existential hero but read beyond what he is offering and a desperate type of character emerges. The type of picture he paints has been enacted en masse by those who have opted for the heroin lifstyle.

In their NA, AA, CA, prison groups, mental health groups and one to ones at drug agencies other rationales for self medication have emerged. Bill has kept a solid silence on this. He reveals nothing of his emotional needs except as a consumer of drugs and young boys. His wife rarely reveals herself except as some form of surrogate mother who gets him out of jail and buys his drugs and helps him detox. Even here, Bill talks about his fascination with guns, something that his wife should have been wary of. When he detox's off smack, he takes to Tequila and starts waving his pistol around as some ten cent bully.

This book is a depiction of a time passed where New York was a sewer.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Evans on 6 April 2002
Format: Paperback
Junky is William Burroughs's first novel, and one of his most important....Don't let the first person narrative fool you, this is not an autobiography in any usual sense. Burroughs himself described it as a 'travel book.'
Unlike the cut-up novels this novel easily engages the reader. There is a narrative, even if there is no narrative development towards a repentant self realsation that would be expected in a confessional novel.
If you have read On the Road then you'll appreciate Junky.
If you have read Naked Lunch then this might come as something of a surprise. But don't berate the book for that. It might not deconstruct a logical narrative development. Or for that matter it doesn't deconstruct the liberal humanist individual. But it does reveal Burroughs the genius....
If you are familiar with Burroughs allready then Junky is well worth buying.
And if you aren't... buy this book. You'll never look at eye droppers the same way after reading this.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dr Benway on 1 May 2007
Format: Paperback
Whether you have any interest in addiction, or you just wanna good read, put this in your "Works". Unlike so much of Burroughs,this is an easily read,straight-forward & beautifully written narrative. A disturbing account of heroin addiction in 1940's post-war America. Burrough's creates vivid characters without a single wasted word in his dry,dark tones. You feel as if you know these characters. Any preconceptions will be swiftly swepped aside as you delve deeper into this book. Its easy to forget this book was published in 1953, albeit edited&censored (unsurprisingly), as it is still applicable today. Fortunately, thanks to Burroughs(and Allen Ginsberg&Co) and others like him, the censor laws are far more realistic. A genuine 20th century classic which has stood the test of time, which will still be on bookshop shelves, and yours, in 2053.

An astonding first novel for Burrough's, the purveyor of strange...
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Peter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 3 May 2002
Format: Paperback
Burroughs’ writing here is a unique and successful blend of autobiography and detached journalism, unprecedented for that time. The prologue gives Junky an air of authenticity from the outset as the author briefly describes his childhood before plunging into this narrative of a journey – teeming with colorful low-life characters - from the Midwest to New York to Texas to New Orleans, a farm in the Rio Grande Valley, & finally Mexico in his relentless pursuit of the heroin trip.
There is a certain aloofness in the style, giving the reader the impression that you’re only witness to a restricted part of the protagonist’s experiences. For example, the text makes vague references to his wife who obviously journeyed and indulged with him, but no more is told of her, poor Joan. Although “Queer’, which is a more rounded novel, filled in many pieces of the jigsaw, it was only upon reading Ellis Ambrose’s “The Subterranean Kerouac,” that this novel finally made sense and I began to see a fuller picture of Burroughs, his wife and their contemporaries. Anyway, this is a piece of brilliant writing on many levels. The book concludes with a glossary of “junk lingo” or “jive talk” – so that’s what the BeeGees were singing about?
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