Junky

The Definitive Text of "Junk"

By William S. Burroughs
(Grove Press, Paperback, 9780802120427, 256pp.)

Publication Date: November 2012

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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Description

Junk is not, like alcohol or a weed, a means to increased enjoyment of life. Junk is not a kick. It is a way of life.

In his debut novel, Junky, Burroughs fictionalized his experiences using and peddling heroin and other drugs in the 1950s into a work that reads like a field report from the underworld of post-war America. The Burroughs-like protagonist of the novel, Bill Lee, see-saws between periods of addiction and rehab, using a panoply of substances including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, paregoric (a weak tincture of opium) and goof balls (barbiturate), amongst others. As he navigates the crime-ridden streets of New York, trying to convince doctors to give him a prescription for opiates and doing his best to avoid the police’s “pigeons” who are given a steady supply of heroin to inform on drug dealers, the narrator describes the physical experience of getting high, and the visceral need for another hit that haunts him every day. From the tenements of New York to the queer bars of New Orleans, Junky takes the reader into a world at once long-forgotten and still with us today. Burroughs’s first novel is a cult classic and a critical part of his oeuvre.




Praise For Junky

Praise for William Burroughs:

“Burroughs voice is hard, derisive, inventive, free, funny, serious, poetic, indelibly American.”—Joan Didion

“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.”—Douglas Brinkley, The Los Angeles Times Book Review

“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 on Naked Lunch

“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

“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

“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

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