William S. Burroughs’ Junky, 1953.

©ourtesy of  wandrlust

William S. Burroughs’ Junky, 1953.First Edition

In 1953, while Joseph McCarthy was hunting for communists in the highest ranks of the federal government, an Arkansan congressman named Ezekiel C. Gathings was conducting his own witch hunt. His target was the paperback-book industry. He argued that pulp fiction had “largely degenerated into media for the dissemination of appeals to sensuality, immorality, filth, perversion, and degeneracy.” Of particular interest to Gathings were novels about drug abusers, a class of American society nearly as reviled as communists. At the time, as Allen Ginsberg later wrote, there was a sense “that if you talked about ‘tea’ (much less Junk) on the bus or subway, you might be arrested—even if you were only discussing a change in the law.” The publication of a pulp novel named Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict, by the pseudonymous William Lee, was therefore a welcome surprise. It sold 100,000 copies in its first six months. American readers wanted what “Lee” was pushing.

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2 responses to “William S. Burroughs’ Junky, 1953.

  1. Great find what an interesting long lost tale…

    Like

  2. Love this bit of fiction history…makes me wonder what madness would have ensued if they’d gotten Fifty Shades of Grey back then! Ha ha, love the blog…and thanks for the follow.

    Like

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