by William S. Burroughs
Junky is William S. Burroughs' first novel and a semi-autobiographical account of his experiences as a narcotics addict. It is disarmingly honest and compulsively readable.
Burroughs talks about starting to shoot up, slowly building an addiction, robbing drunks on the subway and "pushing" to get money for his habit. He talks intimately about people he has known, mostly other users, and how they existed. Or didn't. He talks about multiple efforts to get cured of his addiction, leaving the country to avoid incarceration and living an addict's life in another country. One would expect Junky to be fairly depressing, but the candid and matter-of-fact tone of the writing somehow manages to avert that particular emotion. In fact, it is oddly unemotional but completely engrossing. I could not put this book down once I started reading.
The particular edition I read, the Penguin 50th Anniversary Definitive Edition, has a wonderful introduction and a series of Appendices discussing Borroughs' life, the history of the book, changes that were made in various editions and Burroughs' reactions to some of it that added a lot to my appreciation for this work. I understand it's quite different from his more famous novels, but it has made me much less apprehensive about attempting them. This is my first book by Burroughs, but I will be reading more soon. I can hear Queer, Naked Lunch and The Wild Boys calling my name.
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!