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Junkie read by WSB online for free
August 7, 2012 8:51 PM   Subscribe

If you're a fan of William Burroughs' work, a complete reading of Junkie, by William Burroughs himself, has recently appeared online, for free. Junkie (alternately titled Junky) is a 1953 semi-autobiographical novel by William S. Burroughs, published initially under the pseudonym "William Lee". It was his first published novel and has come to be considered a seminal text on the lifestyle of heroin addicts in the early 1950s. Also some Burroughs movies, which include The Cut-Up Films, interviews, Burroughs The Movie and Shotgun Paintings.
posted by nickyskye (18 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hrm. I'm not sure how I'd react to hearing WSB read Junkie. Maybe I'll download it and save it for a time when I think I'm ready for that.

(Could be a useful source for sound clips for various projects, however...)
posted by hippybear at 9:00 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you ever have trouble making sense of the world, just remember: we live in a universe where Nike paid William S. Burroughs money to narrate a commercial about athletic shoes.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:02 PM on August 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


AWESOME! I have a recording of him reading "Naked Lunch" -- I've never actually read the book through, doesn't work as well to read I don't think. I look forward to listening through, despite Junkie being quite readable.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 9:28 PM on August 7, 2012


For the lazy: UbuWeb previously on MeFi.
posted by mykescipark at 10:53 PM on August 7, 2012


just remember: we live in a universe where Nike paid William S. Burroughs money to narrate a commercial about athletic shoes.

So I was cutting a line of K the other night and you know what, it turned into a huge Nike swoosh and I was like JUST DO IT
posted by yoHighness at 1:21 AM on August 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


When you consider how much of modern literature and film is about the lives of gangsters, and the down and out, the fact that this story is about the daily lives of petty criminals is really unremarkable. OF course, in 1953, Burroughs was a pioneer of the genre.
With that in mind, Junky is a thoughtful and engaging memoir.

UBU also has all of John Giorno's Dial-a-poet records, which include many WSB readings.
posted by Abinadab at 3:16 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first time I experienced the Burroughs virus was when he appeared on SNL in '81 or so. He read from Nova Express and Naked Lunch, in that wry manner that conveyed so much evil wit. Since then, I always hear that deadpan drawl when I'm reading his work.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 4:06 AM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks, nickyskye!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:42 AM on August 8, 2012


Wonderful! Thanks for this.
posted by Splunge at 4:56 AM on August 8, 2012


Nice. Thanks!

Whenever I think of Burroughs, I hear his voice from Drugstore Cowboy.

"Narcotics have been sys-tem-atically scapegoated and demoniiiiized."
posted by orme at 5:18 AM on August 8, 2012


I always think of his voice in that song (put out by Gus Van Sant, I think) repeating "The hipster bebop junkies never showed at 103rd Street" in dolorous tones.
posted by Forktine at 5:40 AM on August 8, 2012


Burrough's "realistic" novels are really very, very good---I wonder sometimes what would have happened if he'd stuck with that approach. The description of The Rio Grande Valley near the end of Junkie is one of the classic descriptive passages of the decade.

But as good as Junkie is, I'd say his second "realistic" novel, Queer, is even better. Burroughs' novels always function by describing intense, horrifying, or just plain freaky situations with a deliberate remove, but in Queer, the emotion keeps surging to the surface and being tamped down in a way that's really affecting. It's a strange, sad, and perceptive love story, with a range of feeling that Burroughs didn't really get back to until his last few books.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:27 AM on August 8, 2012


I've never actually read the book through, doesn't work as well to read I don't think.

It makes a lot more sense if you read it either right before or right after reading Interzone, which is a collection of shorter pieces that he was working on at around the same time and which got recycled, cut up and assimilated into Naked Lunch.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:35 AM on August 8, 2012


Nice! I wonder what the copyright status of this is?

Here's a list of the MP3 URLs. Roman numerals!
posted by Nelson at 9:23 AM on August 8, 2012


Let's try that again: list of the MP3 URLs.
posted by Nelson at 9:29 AM on August 8, 2012


I love his voice so much. See also Laurie Anderson's "Sharkey's Day" and Tom Waits' "Black Rider."

(if of interest) Here is a picture I took of his grave a few years ago: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m_lynch/4135172628/

Although he's buried in a cemetery with enough notables to inspire a brochure/guide, he is not the William S. Burroughs listed in said directory - his grandfather is. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/m_lynch/4134415119/) I know which one I went to the cemetery to see, though.
posted by Occula at 9:43 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let us not forget, The Junky's Christmas.
posted by Splunge at 9:51 AM on August 8, 2012


Worth buying - 10% File Under Burroughs
posted by JJ86 at 5:36 PM on August 11, 2012


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