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Reads: Junky

Junky Junky by William S. Burroughs

rating: 4 of 5 stars
My very first Burroughs! I picked this one up because I saw it was on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list and I recently signed up for a challenge to read 10 of the 1001 books in 10 months as part of the 1% Well Read Challenge. This is my first book of the 10.

Junky was Burrough’s first book and was published before the start of the Beat movement. The semi-autobiographical Junky details the experiences of Bill Lee, a man who develops a morphine and heroine habit.

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.

We first meet Lee shortly before his first time using drugs and watch as he sinks deeper and deeper into the world of junk. The story is told in a gritty and straight forward manner. Burroughs passes no judgement on drug addiction. Lee’s friends and fellow addicts try to find doctors that will write them scripts and pharmacists who will fill them. They are in and out of jail and “detox”.

The book gave me a raw impression of what life as a heroin addict in early 20th century America must’ve been like. As a reader, you watch Lee’s madness and hallucinations. The writing is a simple straightforward narrative, yet very powerful. I found Junky to be a gripping and thought provoking read.

View all my reviews.



Comments on: "Reads: Junky" (4)

  1. I really liked the way Junky was written. In fact, I had the audio version which is read by Burroughs in his deep syrupy voice. It is an amazing recording if you can find a copy.


    If you’re interested, there’s a new version of Arukiyomi’s 1001 books spreadsheet. Along with some cool new features, there are lists of both the revised 1001 books and those that were removed from the new 2008 list. That’s right, the list has changed!

    If you want a free copy of the spreadsheet, head over to Arukiyomi’s blog.

    Happy reading!

  2. I read Junky back in the 1960s. I went on to read Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and Nova Express, but after that I felt I had seen too much of his seedier side of life. I prefer Kerouac, although I don’t know why, he died an alcoholic. I often reread Kerouac because I like his hope. Never found much sunshine in Burroughs.

  3. […] Lisa (The Poisonwood Bible)2. Jess (Junky)3. Molly (After the Quake)4. Maw Books (To Kill a Mockingbird)5. Jill (Kafka on the Shore)6. Laura […]

  4. […] Junky by William S. Burroughs — September ‘08 […]

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