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La scimmia sulla schiena

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  45,287 Ratings  ·  1,283 Reviews
Before his 1959 breakthrough, Naked Lunch, an unknown William S. Burroughs wrote Junky, his first novel. It is a candid eye-witness account of times and places that are now long gone, an unvarnished field report from the American post-war underground. Unafraid to portray himself in 1953 as a confirmed member of two socially-despised under classes (a narcotics addict and a ...more
Paperback, BUR, 250 pages
Published 1976 by Rizzoli (first published April 15th 1953)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”Morphine hits the backs of the legs first, then the back of the neck, a spreading wave of relaxation slackening the muscles away from the bones so that you seem to float without outlines, like lying in warm salt water. As this relaxing wave spread through my tissues, I experienced a strong feeling of fear. I had the feeling that some horrible image was just beyond the field of vision, moving as I turned my head, so that I never quite saw it. I felt nauseous; I lay down and closed my eyes. A ser ...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Well holy shit, high-five to you, early teens me! Though I may have mixed feelings about some things I loved back in my formative, pointlessly cynical years, this rereading experience was actually, well, kinda rad. Can I say that at almost 30? Rad? Or am I getting to where it's like when your folks n' grandfolks try to quote "the hip lingo of the kids these days" and it enters your brain like aural chipboard? This novel held up, is my point.

Maybe I'm just an asshole (probable), but Burroughs ma
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-list
“I have learned the cellular stoicism that junk teaches the user. I have seen a cell full of sick junkies silent and immobile in separate misery. They knew the pointlessness of complaining or moving. They knew that basically no one can help anyone else. There is no key, no secret someone else has that he can give you.”

Junky was a concise yet vivid account of heroin addiction, delineated by someone who’d actually lived the life. Though the book was often bleak, it never degraded itself by indul
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Less flouncy/convoluted, and real(istic?) than Naked Lunch or Queer. (Masterpieces, these.) Oddly straightforward--espesh for a first novel--it valiantly emerges as some sort of sad recounting of events in all their incendiary yet undoubted existence. So brave, so brave coming out as gay; but for a literary juggernaut, the honest truth of drug addiction MUST be depicted... & that Truth is the passport to the future glories (the aforementioned novels).

Articulate clear-headedness here (not in
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 1001 readers and people who'd rather read than get high
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list and a long standing literary pedigree of greatness
Mmm mmm drugs. Yummy. Like adult smarties with extra kick and an added naughty factor.
Ok, that is not strictly true but you have to admit that sometimes it is difficult to pick your way through the troubled and varied history of drugs culture in literature. Drugs good? Drugs bad? Drugs indifferent? You're cool. Or not cool. Or an addict or a victim. See? Confusing.

Lets look back through the literature - Coleridge, De Quincey, Kerouac, Thompson and the production of wondrous drugs madness such a
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, biography
Junky is the semi-autobigraphical account of William Burroughs, Bill Lee in the book. It covers his time from the late 1940's to the early 1950's during his time of heroin addiction and his many attempts to kick the habit.

Burroughs unintentionally shows both sides of drug addiction. He paints a fairly positive view, stating the friendships and knowledge gained were due to his dependence. Several times he claims he was better off on the 'junk' than he was when he quit. The book reads like a typic
Dec 11, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think I prefer looking at this text in its original light: a sensationalized, dime-store paperback about junkies. I just can't take this type of work too seriously. I've met so many people who hail Burroughs as genius and I have yet to find out why. While he offers a grisly account of opiate addiction, it's hard for me to say that Junky is an important piece of literature. It spawned many copy cat memoirs and was influential to the genre of confessional fiction, which I find to be overrated.
Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
I read this while in rehab so as you can imagine it held a very special place in my heart. This is a crazy, self- indulgent, occasionally offensive defence of the junkie lifestyle. The author never really managed to break free from his addiction and despite his hatred for all things government and society died dependent on govt. administered methadone. It's unapologetic. It's hilarious. And when you finish the book you can't help but be struck by the tragedy of addiction despite the crazy ride y ...more
Khashayar Mohammadi
I absolutely adore Burroughs' prose; but I just couldn't find any space where I could insert myself in the book. It'll certainly appeal a lot more to those who have struggled with drug addiction; but I just couldn't get much out of it.
Kelly B
Jul 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's William S. Burroughs, dude. Made me wanna do heroin to get a grasp of what he was going through though. But to really understand his plight I would have to become a junky, which you really gotta put effort into, and I don't really wanna be a junky, because once you are you are for life. Read it, he'll tell you. Or read a bio on him or any other heroin addict. You can do it once and be okay but once you're a junky you can go 20 years without and then do it once and you're hooked or sick all ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Junky by Wiliam S. Burroughs 2 9 May 18, 2015 12:45PM  
  • Go
  • The Portable Beat Reader
  • Big Sur
  • Selected Essays from: How to be Alone
  • Kaddish and Other Poems
  • Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs
  • Water from the Sun and Discovering Japan
  • Last Exit to Brooklyn
  • William S. Burroughs, Throbbing Gristle, Brion Gysin
  • Slaves of New York
  • The Basketball Diaries
  • Dead Babies
  • And the Ass Saw the Angel
  • Kiss Me, Judas
William Seward Burroughs II, (also known by his pen name William Lee; February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, painter, and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century ...more
More about William S. Burroughs...
“When you stop growing you start dying.” 349 likes
“The question is frequently asked: Why does a man become a drug addict?
The answer is that he usually does not intend to become an addict. You don’t wake up one morning and decide to be a drug addict. It takes at least three months’ shooting twice a day to get any habit at all. And you don’t really know what junk sickness is until you have had several habits. It took me almost six months to get my first habit, and then the withdrawal symptoms were mild. I think it no exaggeration to say it takes about a year and several hundred injections to make an addict.
The questions, of course, could be asked: Why did you ever try narcotics? Why did you continue using it long enough to become an addict? You become a narcotics addict because you do not have strong motivations in the other direction. Junk wins by default. I tried it as a matter of curiosity. I drifted along taking shots when I could score. I ended up hooked. Most addicts I have talked to report a similar experience. They did not start using drugs for any reason they can remember. They just drifted along until they got hooked. If you have never been addicted, you can have no clear idea what it means to need junk with the addict’s special need. You don’t decide to be an addict. One morning you wake up sick and you’re an addict. (Junky, Prologue, p. xxxviii)”
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