Review of “Junk Sick” by Norman Savage, Smashwords.com, 2009
Reviewed by Jack Henry Markowitz
Junk Sick by Norman Savage is a tour de force in every sense of the word. Norman Savage is a gifted and exceptional writer who has poured out his heart and his art into this extraordinary memoir. Junk Sick is an epic confessional autobiography, twenty years in the writing and living, that rivals and echoes William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye.
A long time denizen of New York’s Greenwich Village, Savage can clearly trace his literary roots back to the Beats of the Fifties and Sixties – Allan Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
In Junk Sick Savage unsparingly documents his twin battles with Diabetes and drug addiction as well as his lifelong struggle to find his unique literary voice as a writer and poet. While drug abuse and Diabetes ravaged his physical health and led him to surrender many times to the demons that drove him towards the graphically described self-destructive behaviors that negatively impacted his relationships with friends, lovers and family, the better angels of his nature compelled him to continue with his writing despite the uphill odds of staking out a life as a poet and writer during America’s golden age of corporate greed, corruption and moral turpitude.
However, Savage has paid a heavy personal price to assuage the bitch goddess of inspiration in order to achieve his well received memoir. Despite having been strung along and abandoned by a major publishing house that ultimately did not have the necessary testicular fortitude to green light the book’s publication, it is indeed fortunate for us all that the age of digital publication of e-books has arrived in the nick of time to salvage this ambitious and groundbreaking masterwork from possible oblivion.
Junk Sick eloquently captures an entire universe populated by junkies, hookers, whores, pushers, and con-artists of every stripe and milieu. It is also a world populated by caring medical professionals, parents, relatives, lovers and friends whose interventions no doubt saved the author’s life on more than one occasion. In this skillfully written and yes, inspired, portrayal of his personal saga, Savage’s mesmerizing story telling abilities manages to rise above the subject matter, so that all readers can benefit, not just junkies and diabetics, from time spent reading Junk Sick.
Savage is very much a rebel with and without a cause. Like so many of the Baby Boomer generation, this reviewer included, the author has rebelled against a conformist and soul killing American culture. Flouting both cultural and social norms, Savage maintained his belief in the power of the written word. In his writing, the author self- imposed a vigorous adherence to the honest telling of his life experience – the real deal.
Savage is keenly aware of the influences of popular culture in shaping the zeitgeist of our reality. Though the Beats have clearly influenced his writing, so have the works of Philip Roth and the whole school of Coney Island born and bred writers such as Joseph Heller, Neil Simon, Wallace Markfield and Delmar Schwartz. In Junk Sick Savage describes a Greenwich Village that still survives as a bastion of bohemian freedom where the creative juices of writers, poets, musicians and artists can still flow freely, despite the gentrification that has obviously taken place over time. He describes a time when the Village was the home of Bob Dylan, Dylan Thomas, Ginsburg, and Kerouac. Inside the pages we hear the musical magic of Miles, Bird and Coltrane coming from the night clubs and into the streets.
Junk Sick has the potential to become a cultural classic and given enough time and recognition, it may well be heralded as one of the most important memoirs of our era.
(reviewed 27 days after purchase)