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THE STORY OF JUNK by Linda Yablonsky


by Linda Yablonsky

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-374-27024-4
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Magazine writer Yablonsky debuts with a restless memoir of a female heroin dealer who caters to Manhattan's art world. In 1980, the nameless narrator is working as a cook at Sticky's, a ferociously happening restaurant usually filled with quasi-famous artists and rockers. An ever-adventurous gal-on-the- scene, she occasionally sells packets of heroin out of the kitchen. Then she gets introduced to glamorous Kit, the guitarist in a band called Toast, and soon the two women are live-in lovers. Kit's a serious user, and shooting up together before their morning coffee becomes habitual. When the narrator starts meeting suppliers and discovering that she can support her habit by selling to her friends, she gets a kick out of turning her dealing into an ``art,'' enjoying the repetitive nature of the deal, even enjoying packaging the carefully weighed product in prettily cut-up art magazines. She turns her living room into a salon of sorts, and before long she's quit the restaurant and is dealing full time. Included are minimally detailed portraits of the various poseurs on the scene, and tales of street scores on the Lower East Side. There's a drugged-out road trip to Canada with Toast, plus the requisite scare at the border, and even a buying trip to the highlands of Thailand and a summer vacation in Italy. And there is illness: Kit is hospitalized with a near-fatal heart infection; numerous friends are HIV-infected, and some die painful deaths. Inevitably, the narrator is busted and betrays a supplier/friend to the police with loud protestations of regret but little evidence of real anguish. Yablonsky may be dead-on accurate in her portraiture, but her hazy, episodic look at a culture mired in terminal aimlessness is finally tedious and only minimally affecting.