Linda Yablonsky’s The Story of Junk by Lynne Tillman

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 59 Spring 1997
Issue 59 059  Spring 1997
Yablonsky 1

Linda Yablonsky. Photo by Nan Goldin. Courtesy of Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Addiction, to drugs, food, love, TV, alcohol, sex, gambling, is the American narrative theme of the late-20th century. Victims or victimizers, dependents or co-dependents, Americans participate as one or the other, rejecting, accepting, naming, renaming, and name-calling on talk TV and radio.

Linda Yablonsky’s The Story of Junk is a dramatic tale of drug addiction and dealing. The novel’s anti-heroine and her longterm relationship with heroin recall William Burroughs’s Junky, his autobiographical novel written under the pseudonym William Lee. But Yablonsky’s dealer/junkie is female. In the almost 50 years since Junky appeared, one thing is obvious: women are no longer society’s guard dogs. Yablonsky’s women are vulnerable like men, have equal opportunity to “vice,” and are equal prey to its pleasures and pains.

Written as a flashback from the day of the dealer/protagonist’s bust, The Story of Junk reveals the sad face of desire, longing for an oblivion and ecstasy only money can buy. Junk is also the portrait of an environment, a novel of the manners and mores of a subculture of artists, bohemians, musicians, and dissidents of the American way. Their protest short-circuits, circulates narcissistically in their own bodies, and turns the voluntary way-out into a no-exit. Yablonsky has written a bold, sometimes devastating, odyssey, a long night of the soul.

—Lynne Tillman

 

The Story of Junk will be published in April by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

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Originally published in

BOMB 59, Spring 1997

Featuring interviews with Tim Roth, Amy Hempel, Emmylou Harris, Matthew Ritchie, Wallace Shawn, Christian Wolff, Gilles Peress, Kendall Thomas, and George Walker.

Read the issue
Issue 59 059  Spring 1997