Junky: The Definitive Text of "Junk" (50th Anniversary Edition)

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Before his 1959 breakthrough, Naked Lunch, an unknown William S. Burroughs wrote Junk, his first book, a candid, eyewitness account of times and places that are now long gone. This book brings them vividly to life again; it is an unvarnished field report from the American postwar underground. For this definitive 50th-anniversary edition, eminent Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris has painstakingly re-created the author's original text, word by word, from archival typescripts. Here for the first time are Burroughs's own unpublished Introduction and an entire omitted chapter, along with many "lost" passages and auxiliary texts by Allen Ginsberg and others. Harris's comprehensive Introduction reveals the composition history of Junk's text and places its contents against a lively historical background.

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About the Author:

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)—guru of the Beat Generation, controversial éminence grise of the international avant-garde, dark prophet, and blackest of black humor satirists—had a range of influence rivaled by few post-World War II writers. His many books include Naked Lunch, Queer, Exterminator!, The Cat Inside, The Western Lands, and Interzone.


Oliver Harris edited The Letters of William S. Burroughs 1945-1959. He is currently a lecturer in American Literature at the University of Keele.

Review:

"Reads today as fresh and unvarnished as it ever has."-Will Self on Junky

Of all the Beat Generation writers, William S. Burroughs was the most dangerous. . . . He was anarchy’s double agent, an implacable enemy of conformity and of all agencies of control-from government to opiates.” Rolling Stone

The most important writer to emerge since World War II. . . . For his sheer visionary power, and for his humor, I admire Burroughs more than any living writer, and most of those who are dead.” J.G. Ballard

William was a Shootist. He shot like he wrote with extreme precision and no fear.” Hunter S. Thompson

A book of great beauty . . . . Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius.” Norman Mailer

Ever since Naked Lunch . . . Burroughs has been ordained America’s most incendiary artist.” Los Angeles Times

Burroughs voice is hard, derisive, inventive, free, funny, serious, poetic, indelibly American.” Joan Didion

In 1953, at the height of American conformism and anti-communist hysteria, William S. Burroughs published Junky, an irresistible strung-out ode to the joys and perversities of drug addiction. . . . Junky eschews allegory for scrupulous realism. . . . More than anything else, Junky reads like a field guide to the American underworld.” The Daily Beast

Retro-cool, like something Don Draper might find in the Greenwich Village pad of that reefer-smoking painter he was seeing in the first season of Mad Men.” Las Vegas Weekly on Naked Lunch

A creator of grim fairy tales for adults, Burroughs spoke to our nightmare fears and, still worse, to our nightmare longings. . . . And more than any other postwar wordsmith, he bridged generations; popularity in the youth culture is greater now than during the heady days of the Beats.” The Los Angeles Times Book Review

Burroughs seems to revel in a new medium . . . a medium totally fantastic, spaceless, timeless, in which the normal sentence is fractured, the cosmic tries to push its way through the bawdry, and the author shakes the reader as a dog shakes a rat.” Anthony Burgess on The Ticket That Exploded

In Burroughs’ hands, writing reverts to acts of magic, as though he were making some enormous infernal encyclopedia of all the black impulses and acts that, once made, would shut the fiends away forever.” The New York Times on The Ticket That Exploded

Macabre, funny, reverberant, grotesque.” The New York Review of Books on Nova Express

Hypnotic; I wish I could quote, but it takes several pages to get high on this stuff. . . . Funny . . . outrageous along the lines of Burroughs’s well-established scatology. He can think of the wildest parodies of erotic exuberance and invent the weirdest places for demonstrating them.” Harper’s Magazine on Nova Express

One of the most interesting pieces of radical fiction we have.” The Nation on The Soft Machine

In Burroughs’ hands, writing reverts to acts of magic, as though he were making some enormous infernal encyclopedia of all the black impulses and acts that, once made, would shut the fiends away forever.” The New York Times on The Wild Boys

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