Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Junky, by William S. Burroughs

(pb; 1953: prequel to Queer)

This stark, semi-autobiographical account of a post-World War II bisexual heroin junkie is one of Burroughs's best, and most blunt, works. Written under the pseudonym William Lee, the low-life elements of Burroughs's/Lee's thinly-fictionalized experiences (drug addiction, being a fugitive from the law) are off-set by obviously-educated, minutiae-rich observations about living on "junk time," as well as his repeated, failed attempts to kick the life-draining habit for good.

Harrowing, bold, unforgettable book. It's a grim 158 pages, but its perfectly-telescoped and -honed writing, with its semi-cliffhanger-ish finish, makes this stand out from other drug-addiction memoirs that currently clog bookshelves.

Followed by Queer.

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