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!

Lezlie



Sunday, October 18, 2009

JUNKY

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.



14 comments:

Jackie said...

I remember catching Naked Lunch on film many years back and it seemed quirky/weird. I think alot of it had to do with vivid hallucinations, obviously derived from Burroughs personal experience. It's good to hear a review for him and makes me more likely to pick up his books.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Interesting post. I attempted to read Naked Lunch and put it down. Maybe I just wasn't ready for it yet. This sounds really interesting; reminiscent of Trainspotting. Thanks for your review.

obladi oblada said...

Sounds really good...Im putting it on my list, thanks!

JoAnn said...

Have never read Burroughs, but it sounds like I should...

Lezlie said...

Jackie ~ My impression has always been that Naked Lunch is really out there. Junky is pretty straight forward, so it will be fun to see the difference.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity ~ You're welcome! I've always been intimidated by Naked Lunch, even though I've wanted to read it forever. I can't speak from experience at this point since Junky is the only one I've read, but perhaps this is a better place to start with his work.

Obladi Oblada ~ I hope you like it, too!

JoAnn ~ For some reason I can't identify, I've had a fascination with his work, but I've never been brave enough to read it. Hopefully I'll soon be able to give you all a better idea of what to expect from a wider variety of his books. Until then, I do recommend this one!

Lezlie

Andi said...

I've never read any of Burroughs' stuff, but this sounds like a great place to start! I think I'd get into it.

Lezlie said...

Andi ~ You would whip through this in no time. I hope you do, because I'd love to see your thoughts on it. It was like watching a documentary.

Lezlie

Serena said...

I have not read this book, but the premise sounds familiar.

Lezlie said...

Serena ~ Some of the extra material in this edition points out that the publishers were concerned about there being too much of this kind of thing out already, but this one has stood out over the years. I just realized it's on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

Lezlie

damnedconjuror said...

Junky is good. Naked Lunch is bore snore. I like experimental work as much as the next guy but it wasn't for me. I do have a slight aversion to anything to do with Beat literature. I find On the Road to be badly written rubbish.

Bah!

Lezlie said...

Damned Conjuror ~ I hope you're feeling better! I've heard the same about both of those, but I'm sure I'll venture there eventually anyway. I'm bull-headed like that. :-) I picked up Queer the other day, so that will be my next Burroughs. It scared me the least.

Lezlie

Joanne ♦ The Book Zombie said...

If you decide to read Naked Lunch, you should check out the film too - it's pretty cool.

Lezlie said...

Joanne ~ I'll do that. I may need to just to make sense of it all. And I use the word "sense" very loosely here. :-)

Lezlie

damnedconjuror said...

I'm feeling better thanks.

Heh, don't say I didn't warn yeh.

Naked Lunch the film is pretty decent. It's a David Cronenberg film so it's going to be at least decent.