I’ve read my fair share of drug books over the years (“Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas,” “The Basketball Diaries,” “Dead Babies,” “Naked Lunch,” etc.). Most of these classics derive much of their uniqueness from the fact that they describe a sensation that most people haven’t or will never experience. Often these drug-oriented books breathe a strange stream-of-consciousness language that, for obvious reasons, just sounds differently than most other fiction. If anything is certain, it is that drugs, even when used recreationally, can and do generally change people. They provide a frame of reference, often impossible to achieve, without the drug-induced effect. In the end, it is either the long-term mental repercussions or the resulting addiction that really causes the transformation.
Addiction is usually conveyed, in books, movies and real life as this pathetic, debilitating evil that strips away humanity leaving only bones and disease in its wake. But in the “The Story of Junk,” the page turning, modern-epic about becoming a junkie in New York City 1982-6, Linda Yablonsky manages to tell about the experience of being and becoming a junkie by using a narrator who, through it all, still seems to understand the physical and emotional ramifications of her lifestyle.