GUILTY OF EVERYTHING: The Autobiography of Herbert Huncke by Herbert Huncke

GUILTY OF EVERYTHING: The Autobiography of Herbert Huncke

Email this review


The legendary first hipster, famous antihero, and incorrigibly irresponsible beatnik junkie burglar car-robber and general lowlife--noted in various beat biographies for burning or stealing from all his friends without respect for their fame or poverty--tells all. Twenty years ago, Huncke kicked heroin and amphetamines. His habit lasted longer than most, having begun in the 1930's. His father ""loathed the sight of me,"" and Huncke ran away from his Chicago home, the first time, at age 12 and vowed that this was the life for him. At 15, he was put into ""continuation school"" for problem children, soon had his first joint, lit out for New York, became a bisexual Times Square hustler to support his blooming heroin habit. The scams he and his buddies worked to get grains of morphine to sell to Times Square whores make rich storytelling, although the telling of even his most dangerous moments as a lawbreaker lacks the nervous ecstasy of Jean Genet at burglarizing. At times he ships out as a seaman to break his habit--but never breaks it. And jail terms on Rikers Island and in Sing Sing are only a breath between fixes. In the early war years, he meets William Burroughs, gives Burroughs his first fix--from a morphine syrette (a story at odds with Ted Morgan's version in Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs). Later, Huncke buddies with Allen Ginsberg (and robs him) and Jack Kerouac. But Huncke--despite growing fame--is ever sensitive to being often not wanted (Morgan scores Huncke's ""false plausibility""). Meanwhile, the Beat generation blooms and turns to chaos on the Lower East Side, and whatever apartment Huncke moves into soon attracts hordes. He takes up with various women junkies, loses his heart for burglary, supports his habit by dealing. In his 50s, he at last feels drugs are too defeatingly stupid, goes for the methadone treatment, begins publishing A slim but necessary cultural footnote.

Pub Date: May 30th, 1990
Publisher: Paragon House