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Junky (1953)

by William S. Burroughs

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,595522,113 (3.72)125
Burroughs' first novel, a largely autobiographical account of the constant cycle of drug dependency, cures and relapses, remains the most unflinching, unsentimental account of addiction ever written. Through junk neighborhoods in New York, New Orleans and Mexico City, through time spent kicking, time spent dealing and time rolling drunks for money, through junk sickness and a sanatorium, Junky is a field report (by a writer trained in anthropology at Harvard) from the American post-war drug underground. A cult classic, it has influenced generations of writers with its raw, sparse and unapologetic tone.… (more)
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» See also 125 mentions

English (48)  French (2)  Danish (2)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
Self indulgent, lazy writing, not for me. ( )
  vdt_melbourne | Nov 2, 2022 |
Unflinching. A celebration of drugs.
Enjoyable, but semi annoying knowing who it's coming from. ( )
  Alin.Llewellyn | Nov 1, 2022 |
Burroughs is, of course, one of the most important writers to me. Or, at least, was. Reading his hard looks at life was informative. He was an investigator, never taking things for granted, always questioning, always writing w/ clarity. Always writing w/ a challenging imagination. He existed in a world that many ignore or disparage w/o understanding & cast fresh light on it. He was a great critic of the so-called "Great Society" & he hated it for much the same reasons that I do. He incisively described its giant boot tromping on our minds & lit a firecracker under the boot. & he was very successful. I've read almost everything he ever wrote.

On the other hand, he made junk look glamorous. Bad idea. He accidentally shot his wife. Phenomenally stupid. In "Junkie" he writes: "Most addicts look younger than they are." "Perhaps if a junkie could keep himself in a constant state of kicking, he would live to a phenomenal age." Right. A rock musician's dream: eternal life thru drug abuse.

Having lived in Baltimore City for 18 yrs as an adult, a city where something like 10% of the population are drug addicts, 60,000 drug addicts; having been surrounded by drug addiction amongst my friends, having shot heroin myself, I can safely say that shooting heroin is a VERY BAD IDEA. It's, simply speaking, an enslaving tool & little else. The people who sell it, esp at the higher levels of course, want to enslave the user plain & simple. Heroin & Crack are the ultimate control & fund-raising tools of governments. Need to fund a secret war? Addict a population. Want to suppress a potential uprising? Use heroin as chemical warfare. Burroughs' romanticization of heroin use was all well & good for him - he came from a wealthy family & lived off a trust fund. He didn't have to resort to the most desperate tactics to support his habit. There was always the check from Mummy & Daddy to take care of it for him. &, later, the publishers.

& Burroughs understood some of this. Lardy knows he wrote about CONTROL as a main subject. But his son tried to emulate his drug reportage & died fairly young as a result. Burroughs was one of the greatest explorers of human consciousness to ever live & survive & write about it. I have the utmost respect for him. But before anyone follows in his footsteps they shd realize that he was a fool too. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
I read Queer before reading this book. I suppose to understand (not really) that book you should read this one first. They go hand in hand about Burroughs' life. This one piqued my interest because of Edinburg (Texas) reference,and that's where I live.

If I recall correctly, that part is left out in the original text. ( )
  ennuiprayer | Jan 14, 2022 |
If you were sitting on a bar-stool at Holland Bar or at Rudy's in Hell's Kitchen and the guy sitting next to you, unbeknownst to you, was William Burroughs, and he casually said that he was feeling ill because he was having withdrawals, and you casually said "sorry to hear that, what's it like being a junky?", this book would be his very matter-of-fact, brutally honest answer to your innocent question. No shame, no guilt, no holds barred. Just the facts, ma'am. Astonishingly honest.

"A junky runs on junk time. When his junk is cut off, the clock runs down and stops. All he can do is hang on and wait for non-junk time to start. A sick junkie has no escape from external time. He can only wait."

"The kick of junk is that you have to have it. Junk is an inoculation of death that keeps the body in a condition of emergency. When the junky is cut off, emergency reactions continue. Kick is seeing things from a special angle. Kick is momentary freedom from the claims of the aging, cautious, frightened flesh. A special way of looking at things." ( )
  mortalfool | Jul 10, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burroughs, William S.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allen GinsbergIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ginsberg, AllenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, OliverEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lendínez, MartínTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roca, FrancescTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stuart, NeilCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waskowsky, RiekusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yli-Juonikas, JaakkoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
My first experience with junk was during the War, about 1944 or 1945.
I was born in 1914 in a solid, three-story, brick house in a large Midwest city. (Prologue)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Originally published as Junkie under the name William Lee.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Burroughs' first novel, a largely autobiographical account of the constant cycle of drug dependency, cures and relapses, remains the most unflinching, unsentimental account of addiction ever written. Through junk neighborhoods in New York, New Orleans and Mexico City, through time spent kicking, time spent dealing and time rolling drunks for money, through junk sickness and a sanatorium, Junky is a field report (by a writer trained in anthropology at Harvard) from the American post-war drug underground. A cult classic, it has influenced generations of writers with its raw, sparse and unapologetic tone.

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Average: (3.72)
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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141189827, 014104540X, 0241956781

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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