JUNKY [1953] WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS

“I have learned the junk equation. Junk is not, like alcohol or weed, a means to increased enjoyment of life. Junk is not a kick. It is a way of life.” Follow William Lee as he dabbles with petty crime and makes a gradual descent into the hell of drug addiction. One of the most memorable characters he befriends is Herman (Herbert Huncke), hustler, thief and strong early influence on the Beat Generation. Huncke would later depict the same period in his autobiography, Guilty of Everything. Burroughs once said his work was “directed against those who are bent, through stupidity or design, on blowing up the planet or rendering it uninhabitable.” However, in Junky, which was originally published by Ace Books as Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict under the pen name of William Lee, Burroughs sticks to a classic, straightforward narrative that details his early life BEFORE the Beat Generation, BEFORE he accidentally shot and killed his wife and BEFORE he moved to Tangier where he penned his masterpiece, Naked Lunch. However, the deadpan style does reveal flashes of the genius to come in his later writing. For instance, check out this passage: “There was something boneless about her, like a deep-sea creature…I could see those eyes in a shapeless, protoplasmic mass undulating over the dark sea floor.”

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