Hopefully now that I posted this list I will find the time to update it in the future. Its a long list so if you dislike lists or long posts I assume you can figure out what to do.
UPDATE WITH: [* = Updated] Million Little Pieces, My Friend Lenorad, Long Time Gone, Three Dog Nightmare, Scar Tissue, Heroin Diaries, Go Ask Alice, Burnt, This is Heroin, The Heroin Users, A Small Journal of Heroin Addiction, Death by Heroin, Junky Business: The Evolution & Operation of a Heroin Dealing Network (case studies). Brett Easton Ellis, Lunar Park/American Psycho, and a few other from him, Why I Commited Suicide, White Lines: Writers on Cocaine And…And…And…And..And Many More to Come. I would like to bold each of the title names but that would take alot of time and I have a sneaking feeling that worpress [not me of course] would fuck something up and the whole journal would than be in bold type. I would spend and hour trying to fix it, eventually getting stressed out and having to pop a couple pills, just to relax so I will spare myself the frustration and keep it as is. Time for some pot and CNN Hurricane Coverage, whatta hoot.
*Chiva: A Village Takes on the Global Heroin Trade
by Chellis Glendinning. Published by New Society Publishers 2005. The true tale of Chimayo, New Mexico, terrorized by its heroin dealers since the 1970s until, in the late 90s, its citizens rose up to challenge the epidemic in their midst. The story of the authors relationship with a local dealer, and his involvement with addiction, crime, love, recovery and the judicial system. Good read concerning the global heroin production/trade from past to present.
by Linda Glovach. Harper Collins Pub. 1998. The narrator, 19-year-old Samantha Strasbourg, seems doomed from the beginning, living with an alcoholic mother and her mother’s abusive boyfriend, and working a dead-end job. This book is written in a diary form from a first-person narrative and documents the downfall of Sam. The novel offers a shocking, credible glimpse of addiction. Glovach is also a co-author of ‘Go Ask Alice’. Written for young adults but easily enjoyable by anyone with a interest in heroin addiction.
*Burnt: A Teenage Addicts Road to Recovery
by Craig Fraser & Deidre Sullivan. New American Library 1990
Told thru a first-person account of a teen’s struggle with drugs. A typical California party kid living the high life, not to much junky business as it more focuses more on ‘recreational drugs’ [pot, lsd, alcohol]. Craig parties and deals drugs through his private High school. I have always enjoyed this book as I think it portrays the typical High School party life.
By Peter Trachtenberg. Published by Crown in 1997, this is a lovely, lovely piece of autobiography. Using his tattoos as points of departure, Trachtenberg discusses his relationship with his parents and his Lower East Side heroin use in a series of seven interconnected essays. A very nifty piece of work.
A Doctor Among the Addicts
By Nat Hentoff. Written by the Village Voice jazz critic and syndicated civil liberties columnist, and published in 1968 by Grove Press (available in hardcover and paperback), this book should be of interest to those of us on methadone maintenance. Originating as an essay for The New Yorker, this is all about Dr. Mary Nyswander, who with her husband, Dr. Vincent Dole, founded methadone maintenance treatment in New York City in the 1960s.
Addicts Who Survived: An Oral History of Narcotic Use in America, 1923-1965
By David T. Courtwright et al. Published by University of Tennessee in 1989, this is an absolutely riveting piece of oral history headed up by the historian who wrote “Dark Paradise.” Some really great stuff here from old-timer dope fiends who managed not to die
Another Day in Paradise
By Eddie Little. Published in 1997 by Viking, this is a compulsively readable autobiographical novel about dope fiend thieves running wild in the Midwest in the 1970s. This is the real deal: Little has spent most of his life in prison for theft and drug-related offenses. In making the recent movie, both Little and director Larry Clark relapsed back onto heroin. As usual the book is superior to the movie.
Autobiography of a Child of the Streets and Heroin Addict
By Christiane F.. Most commonly available in the 1982 Bantam edition, this is the true tale of a middle class German girl who goes down the tubes with junk. In the mid-1980s this was made into a German movie that remains one of the most grueling and explicit depictions of low-bottom heroin addiction I’ve ever seen on the screen. Very rare on video, but the Bantam paperback isn’t that hard to find
Beam Me Up, Scotty
By Michael Guinzburg. Published by Arcade in 1993, this is one of the first drug-oriented books I read after getting “clean” and I loved it. It’s a satirical account of a New York crack head with a junkie wife trying to get his act together and lots of very funny stuff about 12-step programs and NYC druggies.
By Claude Farrere. First published in 1911 in France as “Fumee d’Opium,” this has since been published in US paperback by Berkely in 1958 and And/Or Press in 1974. An undisputed classic of opiate literature, this is a collection of elipitical and enigmatic short stories, all concerning opium. The Berkeley edition has a great cover showing a half-naked woman materializing in the smoke from an opium pipe.
By Bart Schneider. This 1998 novel from Viking describes the life of a longtime jazz musician who never really succeeds in kicking the habit. The protagonist would seem to be based on Chet Baker in this quite nicely written novel.
By George Cain. Available in a 1970 paperback from Dell, this is a terrifically well-written account of a black addict in New York, chock full of late ’60s politics and lots of junkie business. It also has a great cover illustration of an African-American tying off with an American flag.
By Robert O’Connor. Issued by Knopf in 1993 this is a terrifically well-written account of the fucked-up US occupation Army in West Germany during the Vietnam-era, starring a heroin addicted G.I. Lots of dope stuff and other great stuff, this novel is highly recommended. Also available in a cheaper trade paperback.
By Alexander Trocchi. First published in 1960 by Grove Press, this is a classic of the genre. Trocchi was a Scottish writer who got very strung out living in NewYork Cityin the lates 1950s (and continued using for the rest of his life into the ”70s). His editor at Grove ended up paying him for pages everyday, so Trocchi could cop his dope and be motivated to write. It was worth it, as this is a lovely book with lots of thoughtful meditation on the vicious and pointless Drug War. This was republished by Grove Press in 1992, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.
Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction
By Luke Davies. Published as a paperback original in this country by Ballantine in 1998, this is a doper novel set in Australia in the late 80s-early 90s. I know Davies and this is mostly autobiographical stuff and very well written. Lots of details of ripping and running Aussie style, including cooking up heroin “home bake” from OTC codeine pills. Fascinating. Very Very GOOD
Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts and Pushers
By Thomas Szasz. First issued by Anchor Press in 1974, this screed from a medical doctor and one of the nation’s leading libertarian thinkers, argues that illicit drugs and their users are treated no differently in modern- day America than alleged witches were in the 17th Century. Many of Szasz’s conclusions may be debatable, but his outrage is infectious. Another book to make you think
Chasing the Dragon
By Cathy Smith. Published in 1984 by Key Porter Books, this is the memoir by the woman who was filling the syringe for John Belushi when he ODed. Very much the star-fucker, Smith also includes the poop on life with Gordon Lightfoot and Levon Helm. She was stupidly prosecuted for her role in Belushi’s death.
Coming Down Again
By John Balaban. Published in a Fireside paperback in 1989, this is a great, obscure novel about a group of waste-cases who get busted smuggling dope at the Thai-Burmese border near the end of the Vietnam war. Lots of drugging, lots of great local color and a good read, all around.
Confessions of an American Opium Eater
By H.G. Cole. First published in 1895, and available in further editions as late as 1905, the title obviously refers to Thomas De Quincey’s landmark “Confessions of an English Opium Eater.” Cole, in fact, explicitly blames De Quincey’s rapturous writings about the pleasures of opium with suckering him into the Devil’s playground. (Of course, half of De Quincey’s 1821 classic is titled “The Pains of Opium.” Caveat emptor!) No surprise, Cole’s book has lots of Victorian-era moralizing about “inebriety” and so on, but it’s also clear that he genuinely suffered. This book reminded me that an opiate habit can be a massive pain in the ass not only because of the current laws, but also because the drug comes to dominate our little lives so overwhelmingly.
Cookie: The True Story of a Woman Who Had a Compulsion to Try Everything
By Barbara Quinn. Republished in paperback in 1971 by Belmont Tower, with the new title of “Junkie,” this is a pretty straightforward account of life as lived by a butch lesbian heroin addict in NYC in the 1960s. Lots of good junkie business, for those who like that kind of stuff.
Dark Paradise: Opiate Addiction in America Before 1940
By David T. Courtwright. Published by Harvard University in 1982, this is a very readable academic account of what it was like back then. Exhaustively researched, this fascinating book suggests that it’s never been that great for us dopefiends–legends of a 19th Century Dope Fiends Paradise, notwithstanding–but that the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Act certainly didn’t make things any better.
Diary of a Drug Fiend
By Aleister Crowley. First published in 1922, this classic is most commonly available now in the Samuel Weiser paperback, which first appeared in 1970. Crowley was an astonishing character–prolific author, satanist, charlatan, heroin addict–known in his day as The Great Beast and The Wickedest Man in the World. This novel is a hoot, lots of realistic details about addiction and withdrawal (which Crowley knew a lot about), staged against a background of upper-class English aristos, all coupled with a lot of Crowley’s bizarre spiritual beliefs. Easily found and well worth reading
Diary of an Emotional Idiot
By Maggie Estep. Published in 1997 by Harmony Books this is one of the thinner of the Lower East Side honkey boho-wanna-be novels churned out in the late ’90s. Not terrible by any stretch, neither is it particularly distinctive
By Donald Goines. An addict, Goines, a writer and hustler from Detroit, churned out pulp like this for Los Angeles’ legendary black publisher, Holloway House (home of “Iceberg Slim”). All of his stuff is great, but “Dopefiend” (1971) is especially over the top and well worth finding. Goines came to a bad end; he and his wife were found shot to death in Detroit in 1974.
Dr. Haggard’s Disease
By Patrick McGrath. Brit novelist McGrath writes genuinely creepy psychological thrillers. This novel, published by Poseidon Press in 1993, concerns a doctor-addict in Britain during World War II and is well worth tracking down and reading. Is available in cheaper paperback editions.
Dr. Judas: A Portrayal of the Opium Habit
By William Rosser Cobbe. Published in 1895 by Griggs and Company, this is another one of those marvelously turgid late 19th Century drugalogs by repentant opiate habitues. The epigram on the title page–“Opium is the Judas of drugs, it kisses and then betrays”–says it all
Drug Control in a Free Society
By Lester Grinspoon and James B. Bakalar. First issued by Cambridge University Press in 1984, and readily available in a trade paperback reprints, this is one of the most closely reasoned arguments against the current prohibitionist reign of terror. Grinspoon is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard and has written a half dozen or so of the best-reasearched, most reasonable popular-academic books on various drugs and their use that I’ve ever read. This is a terrific introduction to the “pro” side of the reform/legalization debate.
By Mike Gray. Issued two years ago by Random House, this is one of many volumes published over the past decade critiquing the Drug War. Anyway, this effort, by a film documentarian who is now an investigative reporter for Rolling Stone, is among the best. If it doesn’t get your juices going and your blood pressure up, then you believe you should be treated like shit just because you like to take drugs.
Drug Warriors & Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State
By Richard Lawrence Miller. Published by Praeger in 1996, this work by an independent libertarian scholar, might appear to have an overblown thesis–that drug users in America are treated much as Jews were in Nazi Germany–but I don’t think he’s too far off the point. Another book to get you steamed up at the injustice of it all!
By James Fogle. Published in 1990 in paperback by Delta, this is the story that the movie was based on. And it’s mostly a true story, though novelized. Fogle is the real deal, and in fact he got busted ripping off a drug store not long after the movie came out. Fascinating glimpse of a slice of junkie culture in the US Northwest in the 1970s.
Flowers in the Blood
By Gay Courter. Here’s a fun one: This 1990 novel (Dutton), is a sort of bodice-ripper, romance novel revolving around the Sassoon family of Calcutta, who grew rich shipping opium to China. Lots of stuff about the 19th Century opium trade and quite the page turner
By Richard Hell. Published by Scribner’s in 1996, Hell–formerly of the Voidoids and founder of the NYC punk scene in the ’70s–spent forever working on this thin novel. It recounts a strung-out Billy Mud’s cross-country trip and has lots of the expected ripping and running and doping, but is marred in my view by Hell’s all-consuming self-absorption and obsession with his dick size (of which he is, apparently, quite proud).
Goa Freaks: My Hippie Years in India
By Cleo Odzer. This 1995 memoir describes Odzer’s years on the Goa circuit, the western Indian freak enclave, where she became massively strung out on junk. Her personality really began to grate on me, but her account is interesting–especially as it highlights how even access to vast quantities of cheap high quality dope somehow doesn’t solve the “enough problem.”
H is for Heroin: A Teen-Age Narcotic Tells Her Story
By David Hulburd. I love this book, not only because I own both the 1952 hardcover first edition AND the subsequent pulp paperback, but because it is such an hysterical 1950s account of the dangers of drugs, stemming from that era when “juvenile delinquents” and “Negro addicts” were making all the headlines. Check it out at your library and have a chuckle. Also, what in hell is a “teenage narcotic”?
By Guilty of Everything. Published in 1990 by Paragon House, this is the autobiography of “Huncke the Junkie,” the man who gave William Burroughs his first shot of dope in the 1940s. (He is a character in Burroughs’ “Junkie.”) Huncke was on opiates most of his life, reporting to the clinic for his meth up until his death in 1996 at age 81. This book is excerpted, along with Huncke’s other scattered writings in “The Herbert Huncke Reader” (Quill, 1997)
By Humberto Fernandez. Published two years go in paperback by the recovery folks at Hazelden, this is a reasonably useful introduction to the topic. Needless to say, very recovery oriented but fairly solidly researched.
Heroin and Politicians
By David J. Bellis. Published in 1981 by Greenwood Press, this is a wonderful diatribe from a recovering dope fiend and policy analyst, attacking the political system and the treatment complex for their persecution of the heroin addict. Sadly, twenty years later, all of Bellis’ complaints still stand–in spades.
Heroin: It’s History and Lore
By Julian Durlacher. Published this year, this is one of a series of “history and lore” books about drugs being issued in $9.95 paperbacks by Carlton Books. It packs a lot of info into only 100 or so pages, and most of it was pretty accurate by my reading. A decent quick introduction to the subject.
Heroin: Myths and Realities
By Jara Krivanek. Available in a 1988 paperback from Allen & Unwin, this Australian disquisition on everything you ever wanted to know about junk (with a strong drug policy reformer flavor), turns up in used book stores all over the place. Well worth checking out for all of the basic poop on our drug of choice. (Or, did it choose me? I always wonder!)
Heroin: The Myths and the Facts
By Richard Ashley. Published by St. Martin’s in 1972, this has some good stuff in it, though Ashley tends to downplay the pitfalls of junk in his attempt to counterbalance the hysteria of the drug warriors. He did much the same thing in his 1975 “Cocaine: Its History, Uses and Effects.” Still, this is worth looking at if you really want to get into the subject.
By Martin Booth. Published in 1985, this is a sad and lovely novel about a gay British former prisoner of war of the Japanese who is strung out on opium and on the way down in post-war Hong Kong. A marvelous and tragic pageturner. Booth subsequently published “Opium: A History” (Simon & Schuster, 1996), which I found to be kind of stupidly moralistic. But this novel is tops.
By Seth Morgan. Issued by Random House in 1990, this modern classic about ripping and running in San Francisco’s dope world is also available in trade paperback. Morgan, tragically, died in a motorcycle accident in New Orleans not long after publication of this, his first novel.
How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z
By Ann Marlowe. Issued by Basic Books last year, this is the latest and maybe the last in the tsunami of I-shot-dope-in-New-York books. Despite some nice writing anda novel dictionary approach to organization of the material, this may be the most irritating of a somewhat tiresome lot. Though all experience is valid, Marlowe was basically little more than a chipper. That doesn’t keep her from drawing broad generalizations from her experience to the point of describing withdrawal as nothing more than “a case of the flu.” That shit drives me crazy! The completist may want to read this, but otherwise don’t bother
By Nathan C. Heard. First published in 1968 and later available in a Signet paperback, this was one of the early heroin street novels I read, and so very influential forme, at least. Set in the black ghetto of Newark, or is it Jersey City, this is all a bit turgid, but very well written and well worth reading.
Hydroponic Heroin:How to Grow Opium Poppies without Soil
By Robert Neil Bunch. Published in 1998, this is one of those wonderful anarcho-syndicalist do-it-yourself books from the folks at Loompanics. It’s a nice idea, but unfortunately, growing opium poppies in your attic and cooking the exudate down into diacetylmorphine demands WAY much more effort–and requires more scheduled chemicals–than probably makes it worth the while. Nonetheless, a fun and interesting novelty item
I Am a Teen-Age Dope Addict
By Valerie Jordan. Despite the sleazy packaging of this 1962 Monarch paperback, this is a pretty fascinating account of a midwestern girl’s introduction into the world of dope. I’ve got tons of pulp and exploitation novels published in the 1940s-1960s, which I’m not going to bother posting here, but this one feels like the real thing, the cleavage on the cover notwithstanding.
I Was a Drug Addict
By Leroy Street, as told to David Loth. Though not published by Random House until 1953, the same year Burroughs’ “Junkie” was published, this memoir covers the decade the author was strungout on heroin, from the early ’10s when it was still legal until the mid-20s, when the federal crackdown was in full swing. Though quite moralistic, this is also a priceless piece of period history and well worth tracking down. Was also published in paper by Pyramid in 1954 and as a hardcover in 1973 by Arlington House VERY VERY GOOD
By Denis Johnson. Not a lot of explicit junkie business in this 1992 collection of stories by one of our better writers. (Check out his subsequent “Already Dead,” set in California cannabis country.) But this is some beautiful writing–the title is drawn from the line in Lou Reed’s “Heroin”–and it was just recently made into a really great film. Widely available in the 1993 HarperPerennial paperback.
Julia and the Bazooka
By Anna Kavan. Published posthumously in 1970 by Peter Owen this is a collection of stories by the pseudonymous Kavan, who was addicted to heroin prescribed by her doctors in Britain for the last 30 or so years of her life. The “bazooka” in the title is a syringe. When found dead of an overdose in 1968, at the age of 67, Kavan had a “bazooka” in her hand. See also her great book about madness, “Asylum Piece.”
By William Burroughs. autobiographical account of his own life as a junkie. book takes place right after world war 2, so the middle 40’s. i highly recommend it. he talks about what it was like to be a junkie then in junkie terms and he also talks about withdrawal. Classic heroin boook
Licit & Illicit Drugs
By Edward M. Brecher. Published in 1972 by Consumer Reports, of all things, this is THE book on drugs and drug policy. Brecher does an astonishingly thorough job of researching everything from airplane glue to heroin, and his perspective is extraordinarily level-headed. Among other laudable touches, he treats alcohol, caffeine and nicotine as just another in the panopoly of pleasure drugs that people routinely indulge in. The first 200 or so pages are devoted to the opiates, and is one of the best introductions to the subject I can think of.
Like Being Killed
By Ellen Miller. Published in 1998 by Dutton, this is part of the late 90’s wave of I-shot-dope-in-New-York novels. This debut novel depicts your typical over-educated, under-motivated middle class fuckups living on the Lower East Side and chasing that old bag. Not bad, but not terribly original either
Living with the Dead
By Rock Scully with David Dalton. Published by Little, Brown in 1996, this is probably the best book of all to be published after Jerry Garcia’s untimely death. A lot of rabid Deadheads find it too negative, but it strikes me as being a very true (and very sad) account of Garcia’s heroin addiction and how he was trapped by the whole Dead phenomenon. Scully himself was just as strung out and his tales of trying to keep Garcia from burning down the house with his constant cigarettes are funny/depressing/true.
Mine Enemy Grows Older
By Alexander King. Published in 1958, this book, along with the subsequent “May This House Be Safe From Tigers” (1959) is an anecdotal memoir of King’s life. A now-unknown artist and raconteur famous in the 1950s, King was addicted to morphine for years. Lots of good stuff here about forging scripts, dealing with federal agents and detoxing at the Narcotics Farm in Lexington. Both books available used in Signet paperbacks.
By Helen Gardner. Published here by Seaview in 1977, this is an Australian woman’s seemingly semi-autobiographical account of her love affair with a dope fiend. Very well written and quite accurate, I have also seen this in paperback in used book stores.
By William S. Burroughs. Published in the US in 1959, six years after his first book, “Junkie,” which was initially ascribed to “William Lee,” this is Burroughs’ masterwork–laying out the themes he so obsessively pursued throughout his entire long writing career. (Burroughs died in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1997 at age 83, drinking and toking up to the end.) This is something of a difficult book: parts of it are extraordinarly gross and the novel lacks formal narrative structure. It is also hilariously funny and truly captures the paranoid drug mind so epitomized by Burroughs’ entire philosophy. Highly recommended, along with “Junkie,” posted above by Psychobabe. All Burroughs’ major works are available in Penguin paperbacks.
Narcomania: On Heroin
By Marek Kohn. In this elegant 1987 paperback (Faber and Faber), a British researcher gives us lots of history and some of his best thinking about how it is that heroin came to be such a demonized drug.
By George Veltri. Published by City Lights Books in a trade paperback in 1995, this is a fairly standard account of a working-class kid from Queens and his descent into the dope nightmare. Worth reading if you’re obsessive about this shit, as I am.
One is the Loneliest Number
By Jimmy Greenspoon. A 1991 junkalog by one of the founding members of Three Dog Night. You find dope fiends in the oddest places. Greenspoon is a nightmarishly self-involved egomaniac, but his book does highlight how having enough money is not really the problem if you are an unstable dope hog
Opium and Other Stories
By Geza Csath. Written by a Hungarian doctor-writer-addict who led a short and unhappy life before World War I, this is a genuinely odd and moving collection of short stories. Published by Penguin in 1983.
Opium and the People: Opiate Use in Nineteenth Century England
By Virginia Berridge and Griffith Edwards. Published by St. Martin’s in 1981, this is the definitive academic account of the role of opium and opiate addiction in Victorian England. Astonishingly well-researched and very well written, this book may make your mouth water!
Opium for the Masses
By Jim Hogshire. Published by Loompanics in 1994, this is everything you ever wanted to know about home opium production by the former editor of Pills-a-Go-Go, which was a great ‘zine. Hogshire, whom I know a bit, got pretty badly strung out on poppy tea after he did this book and developed a bit more of a healthy respect for the drug than he shows here. Also has a great annotated bibliography.
Opium: A Novel
By Tony Cohan. I really enjoyed this 1984 potboiler about the Southeast Asian white heroin business and opiate experts who get addicted. But I’ve never seen it in paperback; you might want to check the library if interested
Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon
By Barbara Hodgson. Published last year by Chronicle Books, this profusely illustrated volume is beautiful but also full of factual errors. Look, enjoy, but don’t necessarily believe
Opium: The Diary of a Cure
By Jean Cocteau. First published in English in 1933, this is a marvelous collection of epigraphs and line drawings by the French writer-director-artist-addict-polymath, assembled during one of his periodic detoxes from smoking opium. A treasure of a book that belongs on any literate junkie’s shelves, this is widely available in a variety of editions. Some of Cocteau’s apercus about drugs and addiction are very acute.
Permanent Midnight: A Memoir
By Jerry Stahl. Published in 1995 by Warner Books, this account of black tar addiction by an LA-based TV screenwriter (he wrote for “Alf”!) was also made into a movie. Stahl kind of turns me off, but the book is very well written and quite funny in places. Be wary of the happy ending; I understand from mutual friends that Stahl had a hell of a relapse after publication though I also understand he’s doing okay now.
Poppies: The Odyssey of an Opium Eater
By Eric Detzer. Detzer was a former SF junkie who cleaned up, became a social worker in Seattle and then got strung out on opium pod tea. Published in 1988 by Mercury House, this is quite a lovely book. It’s chock full of observations about addiction and withdrawal that I agreed with completely. Surprisingly easy to find in used book stores,
Prisoner of Woodstock
By Dallas Taylor. Issued by Thunder’s Mouth Press in 1994, this is another rock and roll junkalog, this time by the drummer for Crosby, Stills and Nash. I understand that Taylor is currently an addictions counselor in LA.
Requiem for a Dream
By Hubert Selby Jr.. Written by the post-Beat writer who also did “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” this was issued by Playboy Press in 1978. This is Selby’s best book, I think, and concerns a couple of NYC junkies, one of whose mother is strung out on diet pills. Everybody comes to a very bad end. Selby by the way, is still alive and kicking and a stalwart of the N.A. scene in Los Angeles. Available in various editions, this shouldn’t be too hard to find in a used book store.
By Kim Wozencraft. Published in 1990 by Random House, this semi-autobiographical novel, which was also made into a movie, is available too in cheap paperback. The storyof East Texas ***** who go undercover a little too effectively and get wildly strung out, this is great stuff. Wozencraft is married to Richard Stratton, who wrote his drug novel “Smack Goddess” (Birch Lane Press, 1990) while in prison on dope charges and later went on to found the sadly now-defunct Prison Life Magazine.
By A.A. Attanasio and Robert S. Henderson. Published in hardcover in 1996 by “Dennis McMillan Publications,” this is a bizarre and fascinating biker drama based loosely on Greek mythology and concerning junkie bikers in Boston who get over by ripping off drug wholesale houses for their Dilaudid. Probably hard to find, but pretty much worth the effort.
By Melvin Burgess. First published in Britain as “Junk” in 1996, this book–which made a big splash across the waters–was republished here as “Smack” by Henry Holt in 1998. It describes the descent of a couple of Brit youngsters into the maelstrom of smack, but doesn’t have too much original to say on the subject. Reads pretty much like it was written for the “mature young adult reader.”
By Madison Smartt Bell. Bell is one of our better modern American novelists and this 1986 book (Ticknor & Fields) concerns a New York City film editor who gets a job in Italy and ends up in a crazy smack smuggling scheme. Not a lot of user stuff, but well worth reading.
Take the Long Way Home
By Susan Gordon Lydon. Published by HarperSanFrancisco in 1993, these “memoirs of a survivor” trace the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise of Long Island girl who helped found Rolling Stone magazine and ended up turning tricks for speedballs. Very powerful and well-written. Lydon’s story is also told in Donald Katz’s journalistic account, “Home Fires: An Intimate Portrait of One Middle-Class Family in Postwar America” (HarperPerrenial, 1992). That’s a great book, to
Tales From the Geronimo
By Scott Frank. Subtitled “My Seduction By Junk and Desert Dreams,” this beautiful book was published by Grove Press in 1995. An account of getting stuck on the mainline in Tucson (of all places) in the 1970s, the writing here is unsurpassed and the whole thing has a dreamlike feel that really makes it work.
By Dan Wakefield (ed.). Published by Fawcett in paperback in 1963, this is an anthology of writings about heroin addiction edited by the novelist and memoirist, Dan Wakefield. Excerpts writings from Marie Nyswander, William Burroughs, Alexander King, Alexander Trocchi and others whose works are posted elsewhere on this page. A good introduction to the earlier literature on the subject
The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control
By David F. Musto. First published by Yale University in 1973, this is THE scholarly work on how we ended up with this vicious and idiotic war on drugs. Musto is not necessarily a critic, but he is pretty fair. This is constantly in print in updated paperback editions. Worth reading if you’re really that interested.
The Basketball Diaries
By Jim Carroll. Originally published in 1978, this book is most commonly available in the Penguin edition, which is constantly in print. The inspiration for a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this is the story, in diary form, of Carroll’s addiction to heroin while playing basketball for an uptown private school. Has been very influential on the generation of dopefiends who came of age in the 1980s. And don’t forget the sequel, “Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, 1971-1973” (Penguin).
The Birth of Heroin and the Demonization of the Dope Fiend
By Th. Metzger. Another 1998 entry from the in-your-face-folks at Loompanics, I had high hopes for this book but was ultimately disappointed. I have no quarrel with Metzger’s thesis–that heroin and opiates generally have been absurdly elevated to some otherworldly pantheon of evil–but his research is in many areas quite shoddy and he falls for a lot of the often-repeated mythogies that simply aren’t true. Nonetheless, this is an entertaining diatribe.
The Drug User, Documents: 1840-1960
By John Strasbaugh and Donald Blaise (eds.). There’s a lot of these drug anthologies out there, but this 1991 entry from Blast Books is one of the best. Not just opiates, but a variety of other drugs are covered in this well-edited and documented collection of other folks writings about drugs. You might also want to look up David Eben’s “The Drug Experience” (Orion Press, 1961), Peter Haining’s “The Hashish Club: An Anthology of Drug Literature,” two volumes (Peter Owen, 1975) and John Miller and Randall Koral’s “White Rabbit: A Psychedelic Reader” (Chronicle Books, 1995).
The Fantastic Lodge: The Autobiography of a Drug Addict
By Helen MacGill Hughes (ed.). Supposedly based on taped interviews, posthumously published in 1961, this is a classic in the clinical literature of addiction as an account of a middle-class young woman’s descent into the hell of heroin in the 1950s. Also available in a 1971 Fawcett paperback, this is worth looking at.
The Hardest Drug: Heroin and Public Policy
By John Kaplan. Issued by the University of Chicago in 1981, this is an excruciatingly detailed, closely reasoned, examination of whether or not the laws banning heroin should be amended. Kaplan concludes that they shouldn’t. But the late professor of law at Stanford came to the exact opposite finding in his 1970 book, “Marijuana: The New Prohibition.” I disagree with where he ends up, but admire the systematic way he explores all of the pros and cons. This is a book to make you think.
The Heroin Solution
By Arnold S. Trebach. Published by Yale University in 1982 (also available in trade paperback), this is an exhaustively written survey by the American University Professorwho founded the Drug Policy Foundation. Trebach (a great guy, by the way) is mostly concerned here with relegalization of medical heroin and contrasting what was then the more humane British approach to that of the American drug police Nazis. A great book and well worth reading for an all round understanding of the how this drug has been perceived and dealt with in the 20th Century
The Heroin Users
By Tam Stewart. Readily available in a 1996 revised paperback edition (HarperCollins) of the 1987 British hardcover first edition (Pandora), this is a survey of the heroin scene by a woman who shot dope in Liverpool for years and wants to dispell many of the myths that surround this drug, both the junkie legends and the Drug Warrior demonology.
The Hundredth Man: Confessions of a Drug Addict
By Cecil de Lenoir. Printed by Anchor Press (U.K.) in 1933, this is Lenoir’s account of being a Brit shooting dope in America, complete with lots of totally irrelevant photos of American scenery (the Grand Canyon, etc.) He called himself “the hundredth man” because he believed that only one-in-a-hundred could escape the clutches of the Demon Poppy. Lenoir is awfully self-pitying, though, and by the end of this book I did not wish him well
The Jones Men
By Vern E. Smith. Available in a 1975 paperback from Warner Books, this first novel by a Newsweek reporter concerns the balls-to-the-walls dope scene in 1970s Detroit.A classic of the drug thriller genre, this is well worth finding–and it shouldn’t be that hard.
The Last Bongo Sunset
By Les Plesko. Published in 1995 by Simon & Schuster, this is a wonderfully well-written and very little-known account of tricking, ripping and shooting dope inVenice, California, in the 1970s. I really like it a lot and though it is obscure, it shouldn’t be all THAT hard to find. Good stuff.
The Little Book of Heroin
By Francis Moraes. Published just this year by Ronin in a $12.95 paperback, this is a counterpart to Ronin’s “Little Book of Ketamine” and “Little Book of Acid.” Unfortunately, it was written by a professor who did some research but doesn’t have that much actual working knowledge of the drug and its perverse little world. Besides being loaded with gratuitous typos, this slim volume is also full of such misapprehensions as Moraes’ assertion that dope fiends routinely chemically purify their street dope before fixing! (Yeah, right!)
The Lonely Trip Back
By Florrie Fisher. The harrowing tale of how a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn became a junkie hooker, this was first published in 1971 and subsequently in paperback by Bantam. Lots of junkie business, but very moralistic (Fisher was just convinced that each and every one of those late ’60s pothead kids was going to end up just like she did). Nonetheless, lots of good period detail and worth a look.
The Lotus Crew
By Stewart Meyer. Published in 1984 by Grove Press, this wonderful novel about dealing and shooting dope on the Lower East Side was kindly reprinted by the folks at Serpent’s Tail Press in 1996. A very enjoyable read, tons of accurate and believable detail, this was written by a British guy who shot a lot of dope in the good old USA.
The Man with the Golden Arm
By Nelson Algren. First published in 1949 and written by the unacknowledged godfather of the Beat writing style, this is the book which, read when I was 13, convinced me I was going to grow up to shoot dope. (Instead, I didn’t wait to grow up and started just four years later!) Set in Chicago, it details the travails of Frankie Machine, a card dealer and morphine addict and is very grim, but wonderfully written. A classic of the genre
The Opium Habit, with Suggestions as to the Remedy
By Horace B. Day (ed.). Published by Harper and Brothers only three years after the American Civil War ended (i.e., 186, this is the first full length work published in the United States on the subject of opiate addiction. (I was so thrilled when I found a battered but affordable copy of this.) Among the contributors is Fitz Hugh Ludlow, author of “The Hasheesh Eater,” which when published in 1857, was THE first full-length book published in the United States on any kind of pleasure drug.
The Panic in Needle Park
By James Mills. First published by Farrar, Straus in 1966, this novel grew out of reporting that Mills did on a junkie couple in midtown Manhattan for Life magazine.(I have a copy of that issue.) This terrific book was the basis for the movie of the same title, which was Al Pacino’s first film. Also available in cheap paperback,
The River Sorrow
By Craig Holden. First published by Delacorte in 1994, this thriller is also available in cheap paperback. It’s about a junkie doctor in Michigan who gets trapped into producing fentanyl for the street market in Detroit. I don’t know, I just love this kind of shit and I liked this book.
By Clarence Cooper Jr.. Published in 1960, this is my favorite book by Cooper, who was a dope fiend himself (and childhood friend of Malcolm X, to boot). A fairly standard account of three months on the hooker-junkie stroll of a big Eastern city, this has great writing. Before dying penniless at the 23rd St. YMCA in NYC in 1978, Cooper also published “The Farm” (1970), a terrific novel about life at the now-defunct Federal Narcotics Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.
The Story of Junk
By Linda Yablonsky. Issued by Farrar, Straus, Giroux in 1997, this memoir and roman a clef about doing dope in NYC was shipped to reviewers in plastic bags just like a deck of smack! Not at all a bad book, and I read it before I wearied of the NYC drug memoir. The band in question in this book–the one that the protagonist’s girlfriend belongs to–by the way, is the Bush Tetras. good
The Wail of a Drug Addict
By D.C. Van Slyke. Like many of the pre-WWII dope fiend memoirs posted here, this 1945 item from Eerdmans Publishing can probably only be found in a library or at a rare book dealers. But this is a wonderfully overblown account of the horrors of addiction by a thin-lipped Midwestern type who cleaned up to become an evangelist. It also boasts a great, freaky title!
The White Poppy
By J.M. Scott. This history of opium, published in 1969 by Funk & Wagnalls is a good workman like account and a reasonable introduction to the history and lore of the Mother Plant.
Thirty Years in Hell: The Confessions of a Drug Fiend
By D.F. MacMartin. Published in 1921 by Capper Printing of Topeka, Kansas, this is a wierd and terrific memoir by a comparatively low-bottom addict who had been using so long that heroin was a novelty item when it came around at the turn of the century. (“Happy Dust is the Tenderloin term for heroin, a comparatively new derivative of morphia…and the continual use of it for a few years leads to physical collapse and death.”) A bizarre and startling period piece, this book is also very hard to find.
Tragic Magic: The Life and Crimes of a Heroin Addict
By Stuart L. Hills and Ron Santiago. Personally, I’ve never heard dope called “tragic magic” on the streets, but this 1992 junkie memoir details all the ripping and running on the mean streets of that rotten old Big Apple. A fairly standard account, only for the completist, maybe.
By Irvine Welsh. My edition of this modern classic junk novel was published by Minerva in the UK in 1994. But there is a US edition that should be easy to find, and which also has a glossary which makes the Edinburgh Scots dialect in which Welsh writes easier to decode. Don’t be intimidated by the language, once you get into it it all starts making sense. And this book is so funny and so true and heartbreaking. The only way Renton can break away from his self-destruction is by betraying his friends.
Twisted: One Drug Addict’s Desperate Struggle for Recovery
By C. Adam Richmond. Though I’ve seen this in other editions, mine was issued in 1992 by Noble Press. Although full of all the gory details you’re probably looking for–some great cocaine injection psychosis scenes–this item read a little too much like a Hazelden recovery tract for my taste. Nonetheless, it’s got the goods if you’re looking for them.
By Bruce Henderson. Published by Dutton in 1994, this is the story of Apollo, a gorgeous mixed-race hustler in NYC who is strung out on Dilaudid, and his many sleazy addicted johns. Available also in trade paperback.
Viper: The Confessions of a Drug Addict
By Raymond Thorp. Actually written by British anti-drug agitator Derek Agnew, and published first in 1956, this is an amusing and overblown account of how a witless young Brit started hanging out with Negroes, going to jazz clubs and ends up hooked on pot and heroin. Subsequently republished in a 1963 Paperback Library edition with a lot of Agnew’s racist boilerplate excised.
By Martha Morrison. This 1989 memoir (Crown Publishers) describes how a southern doper girl grew up to be a heavily addicted doctor. Lots of junkie business here, but some very moralistic and Christian conclusions. Morrison ended up marrying the guy who has the monopoly on treating addicted health care professionals at his clinic down near Atlanta.
Women on Heroin
By Marsha Rosenbaum. First published in 1981 (available in paper from Rutgers University Press), this sociological/anthropological study was written by the woman who nowheads up the West Coast office of the Lindesmith Center, the drug policy reform outfit funded by financier George Soros. Up until this volume came out, most of the field work on street addicts had focused exclusively on male users, so this was a useful contribution to the literature.