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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great gift!
A great gift, for my son, who says the story line is very interesting and even though this was written some time ago, is still relevent today.
Published 6 months ago by Joy Hirshfield

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars jimmi lac
Not the best ,great as piece of factual type reading & a Beautiful passage on the change from flower to animal.. very true ..speaking from personnel experience.

Does what it says on the cover ..
Published on 26 Dec 2011 by Mr. James De'lucia


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great gift!, 23 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
A great gift, for my son, who says the story line is very interesting and even though this was written some time ago, is still relevent today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Anthropology of Need, 20 July 2012
By 
JF Lawrence (Southampton, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is 'the definitive version of Junk', Oliver Harris's reconstruction of the original edition of Burroughs's first and arguably most accessible novel, Junkie. Harris went back to original manuscripts and their variations to piece together something that he believes is closer to WSB's original concept than either the first edition, published by Ace Books in the early 50s, a 1960s revised edition by the same publisher, or the familiar 1977 version, Junky, put together by Burroughs and James Grauerholz. An ms. thought to be missing but found by Harris in the Ginsberg collection at Stanford University also provided new material. I stated above that this is a reconstruction of the original text, but, as Harris points out, there can be no definitive ur-text owing to the complexities I have referred to.

The story of the reconstruction and the various earlier texts is involved, a tale of bowdlerisation and editorial nervousness and caprice, a catalogue of errors and undesirable insertions. There are elements of WSB's original draft(s) of Junk; an excerpt of Queer, translated from 3rd to 1st person narrative, that Burroughs started while Junk(ie) was in editing; excisions chosen by Burroughs himself for narrative reasons, notably a sizeable digression on the theories of Wilhelm Reich and their application to heroin addiction; and a number of changes both small and significant made in the creation of the original Penguin text, including the alteration of the title to its familiar spelling.

I went back to my old copy of the 1977 edition before tackling Harris's update and, having compared them both, I would just give my preference to the new version. While the Harris edition is not greatly different to the 1977 book, the changes are justified in that they give a slightly different flavour to the voice of the narrator, 'William Lee'. Some restorations are particularly interesting in that they contain imagery associated with his later, experimental writing, and there are little snippets of campy internal monologue that lend a comical touch; some lines give an extra dimension to the Lee character - cruelty, philosophical leanings, hints of the relationship with his wife. There is a subtle addition of depth to Lee.

If you know the old Penguin edition you already know about the slice-of-life examination of the burgeoning hipster/junky underground in 1940s/50s America, the slang, the technicalities of using opiates, the anthropological observation of the various subcultures - the old-time addicts, the new hipsters and jazz musicians with their new language, cops, psychiatrists, homosexuals, lush-rollers and pushers. You already know about the grimness and the bleakly comic facets of the junky lifestyle, its horrors, its callousness, its outsider arrogance and humility, its status as a bogeyman for conventional society and its zookeepers. If you haven't read Junky before, then I would strongly recommend that you score for this revised edition and cop for a hit of classically scabrous, serious and painfully real literature.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 28 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Great book. This semi-biographical tale told in the matter-of-fact, stoned manner of the addict Burrough was. This is as close to heroin addiction as I want to get. The only person writing today that has the sort of impact Burrough's writing is Morton Bain.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I'm having withdrawal symptoms (after finishing this book), 21 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
All the other (positive) reviewers are bang on the money. This book will have you hooked, when I finished it I entered a period of malaise, longing for its return. It is a highly insightful piece which, delivered in its raw unsentimental style, injects this addictive cocktail straight to your core. A real good pick-up, definitely recommend, and with the informative treat of an introduction by Oliver Harris, you'll really be in the mood to shoot up with this Class A novel. I just need to get another Burroughs book in a similar vein...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life of a junky, 13 Mar 2012
This review is from: Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Compared to most of Burroughs's works, Junkie is the least frightening of the bunch. It has a plot (wow!), it has a main character, and everything in it makes perfect sense. That's because the author decided to write a painfully honest book about the life of a junky, written in a cold, unforgiving tone. The narrator is the main character, as always, and is mostly inspired by Burroughs's personality and his unsettling addiction problems. Thanks to this book, I am way more informed on the subject of drugs than I ever would have been. Though I don't know if that's a plus to my knowledge or not...
All in all, I enjoyed reading Junky more than any other of Burroughs's works, but alas, it's no mind-blowing feast of words and images; just an inside on one of the most bizarre lifestyles a person can submit themselves to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Bravura performance, 17 Jan 2012
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I thought this was a fairly accurate representation of addiction (having lived with an addict myself). It perfectly replicates the boredom, frustration, misery, filth and grindingly repetitious nature of someone with this kind of addiction. It shows their obsessive focus and the utterly stupid and erroneous belief that they are in charge of the drug rather than it being in charge of them. It is written with a dry precision and a great eye for squalid detail that make it a perfect book of what it is, the diary of the downward descent of a drug addict.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This Book is Anything But Junk, 22 Sep 2011
By 
Michael Cunningham (Melbourne, Victoria (AUS)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Junky is William Burroughs first and most accessible novel. Unlike Naked Lunch, which is written in a very surreal and abstract way, Junky reads like an actual novel with a realistic and chronological structure. It's based on Burroughs real life heroin addiction, and is about a character by the name of 'William Lee' and his doped out narrative voice, detailing his slow struggle on the razors edge of heroin addiction, dealing and withdrawal. The cold and distant narrative style is finely juxtaposed by the open and honest description of events and experiences. All of the characters are interesting and memorable, and the book coined the phrase 'once a junky, always a junky'. Definitely a worthwhile read, and a good primer for Burroughs and the beat generation of novel writers. I would love to include a short passage, to 'hook' you in to the story and writing style, but sadly I lent this gem to a girl and don't ever see myself getting it back...
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4.0 out of 5 stars his best and first effort, 8 May 2011
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rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
After trying to make sense out of his more surrealistic efforts for years to little avail and no enjoyment, I stumbled across this book and was immediately swept into the narrative of the world of drug addiction in a far deeper manner than his other works.

Perhaps I am too literal minded, but I find the other stuff boring and self consciously obscure. Junky, however, is clear, concise, and with an internal logic all its own.

Recommended as a particular tour of hell.
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5.0 out of 5 stars World Upside Downwards, 5 Mar 2011
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Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) (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. It shows the 1940's droughts as the U boats strangled supply and the reliance on pharma Morphine, the shift into drug dealing, the body and psychological shivers of withdrawal, the petty mugging of other self medicators (alcohol) to fund their habits. This is a trawl on the bottom of the social hierarchical dream where the corporate barons are seen as socially desirable and the heroin users who shoplift are perceived as being at the bottom.

Bill sees the world as turned upside down and inverts the scale. This is the power of this book. It is far more effective than George Orwell as he always distanced himself from the poverty. Bill is immersed within it but always having an umbilical chord attached so he could haul himself to safety. Bill details the everyday needs of someone who is smack addled and desperate to stave off anything that approaches an emotional rapport. After writing this book Bill was feted. The writing is crisp neat and sucks in the unwary as he details a life free of constraint. He also paints the pictures of waiting, stress of being busted, the cold turkey, the loss of friendships but it is all done with a form of relentless glamour. Even the boring lifestyle is perceived as better than being sucked into the morass.

I was drawn and repelled, not so much by the drugs and poverty, seen that done that but the complete lack of connection to anything. Bill has no memories or thoughts, as if his life was erased when he wrote this. This is the power and the glory as the book documents a life of complete selfishness and being self absorbed.

No one does it better than Bill
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Better Beat - Minus the Shock, 10 Aug 2009
This review is from: Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I appreciate Junky for not being 'On the Road'. It is a good representation of the Beat era with a serious subject yet manages to NOT be pitiful or self-absorbed. It is short, to the point and tells you all you need to know whilst retaining just enough poetic licence to make the prose interesting. It is simply a good record of the life of the heroin addict and explains the effects of drugs in the same matter-of-fact, informative way that Hunter.S.Thompson does in 'Fear and Loathing...'. There is no self-congratulation or a hint of bragging, neither is there a plea for sympathy. These are just the facts, and Burroughs is recording them, unconcerned of the opinion of others, unlike some of his contemporaries (such as Kerouac).

Of course the book isn't perfect; there is little discernable plot so it feels more completely autobiographical rather than 'semi' as the back cover claims. We also do not get to learn much about the narrator as a complete human: his relationship with his wife and the effects of the abuse on her is largely ignored, and the events lurch from one drug seeking exercise to another. This may well be the point, but it left me feeling like it was all slightly empty.

Also, the main point to the novel has now largely been lost - the shock element. When it was published in the 1950s the revelations were astonishing and contained an honesty more brutal than the generation could cope with. In the 21st century of course we are bombarded with graphic images and tales of the underbelly of the world. Anyone who has seen 'Trainspotting' would likely not find this book anything above mildly surprising because of the time it was written in. But being 'of its time' is no bad thing, and Junky deserves it's praise just for putting it out there in the first place.
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Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics)
Junky: The Definitive Text of 'Junk' (Penguin Modern Classics) by William S Burroughs (Paperback - 6 Nov 2008)
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