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Junky [Paperback]

William S. Burroughs
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Jun 1977
In this complete and unexpurgated edition of this book about drug addiction, William S. Burroughs depicts the addict's life: his hallucinations, his ghostly nocturnal wanderings, his strange sexuality, and his hunger for the needle.


Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (30 Jun 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140043519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141045405
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.9 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 518,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)--guru of the Beat Generation, controversial eminence grise of the international avant-garde, dark prophet, and blackest of black humor satirists--had a range of influence rivaled by few post-World War II writers. His many books include Naked Lunch, Queer, Exterminator!, The Cat Inside, The Western Lands, and Interzone.

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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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Customer Reviews

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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique & Compelling 3 May 2002
By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of the early Beats 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful&Brutally Honest ;Beautifully Wrote 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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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Having personally experienced heroin addiction, I was intrigued and keen to read Junky and I wasn't disappointed. Although Junky was published in the 1950s, it's excellent depiction of drug addiction and the associated lifestyle hasn't aged in the slightest (although disposable needles and syringes - 'works' - have replaced eyedroppers).
What I particularly liked about Junky, is that Burroughs isn't remotely self-pitying, even when he describes 'taking the cure' in a hospital and going through bouts of 'junk sickness'. Burroughs also manages to keep the reader completely focused on the book, with eager anticipation about what's going to happen next. Although Junky isn't a particularly long book (it only took a few days to read) it's like a slow-release euphoric experience from beginning to end!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adventures in early drug culture 1 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In comparison to some of his other works this is an easy reading uncomplex treatise on the writers early life in the hipster underground.It takes you from the authors first experiences with addiction and cold turkey sessions to his self imposed exile in Mexico whilst on the run from a federal drug charge.
Although the subject is a grim one it does not come across as despairing or self-pitying neither does it philosophise too much or glamorise the lifestyle of the junk fiend.What it does capture well is the emotionless mechanics of addiction in an entertaining and captivating way.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly dated, uncomfortable, fascinating
I haven't read any of Burroughs other work, and didn't come to this with any particular expectation, other then those you'd be lead to believe by the summary. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Sean Inglis
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible book
Speaks candidly about the life of a heroin addict. Witty, engaging, historically important. No holds barred. Read more
Published 11 months ago by n c v butcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Cult Novel
Junkie (alternative title spelled Junky) is a 1953 semi-autobiographical novel by William S. Burroughs. Read more
Published on 1 Oct 2010 by JamesG
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Beat Novel
This is an essential novel to read if, like me, you're in to the writers of the beat generation. It is the first Burroughs novel I have read but it won't be the last. Read more
Published on 10 April 2009 by I. M. Knight
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent edition.
Will Self's introduction is an excellent essay. Whilst I do not agree with sections of it, his contextualising of the novel as an existentialist text is a very interesting take on... Read more
Published on 9 Mar 2002 by Martin Brown - martinpilchard@hotmail.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw
A raw and unforgiving portrayal of 40's America. Stark and vivid, it shows culture not as the Uncle Sam patriots, but as junkys, bums, thieves, and queers. Read more
Published on 6 April 2001 by Thomas J. Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Cutting edge
Do you remember the way in which "Trainspotting" was greeted a little while back? Can you imagine the effect that this book would have had when it was published? Read more
Published on 12 Jan 2000
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