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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for Drugs
Book cover for DrugsBook cover for DrugsBook cover for Drugs

In author J. R. Helton's hilarious prose, our protagonist Jake inimitably narrates the ups and downs of being a functional user of marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, alcohol, nicotine, brand name hydrocodone, and countless other drugs readily available and commonly partaken of in modern America. We follow Jake on car rides with his coke dealer to menace connections in supermarket parking lots, buying prescription opiates from a megacorporate health and beauty clinic, falling in love with his wife while on a series of mushroom trips through San Antonio and Austin, binging on nitrous oxide canisters to spectral visions of Julianne Moore whispering his name.

Along the way, Jake explains the effects of the drugs he's done—not only on his body but on his soul—and at the same time lampoons an America that pretends, against all reason, that drug use is the province of the weak and the socially outcast, while simultaneously getting high and profiting off of it: an America in which drug use is not just a part of the American mainstream, but may be one of the only sane responses to the American mainstream. The contemporary heir of William S. Burroughs's classic Junky, J.R. Helton's novel Drugs shows us—through sly wit, deceptively powerful prose, and the unmistakable ring of truth—a side of America that most of us allow to remain hidden in plain sight.

Book cover for Drugs
Book cover for DrugsBook cover for DrugsBook cover for Drugs

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“J. R. Helton really speaks to me—starkly honest, darkly funny, acutely observant, and captures the tragic absurdity of human life … [H]e's right up there with the best of them.”

“Helton … writes with passion, clarity, and fairness.”

“Just when you think there's nothing to new to say about drugs, Drugs marches out whole new ways to fuck up your brain, your life, and basically anyone insane or unlucky enough to cross your path. This is a truly riveting, mind-altering read, not to be missed.”

“Appearances can be deceiving—JR Helton's wonderful book is not so much about 'Drugs' as it is about growing up in America as viewed through the prism of our national past-time. Funny and poignant, Helton has delivered a book that would make Mark Twain proud—it's hilarious, true and subversive—a perfect piece of modern American writing.”

J. R. Helton

J. R. HELTON's first novel Drugs, a modern homage to William S. Burroughs’s classic Junky, introduced the world to his wry writing and unique genre of fictionalized memoir. A professor of writing at the collegiate level, Helton has also published the novel The Jugheads, two memoirs, and a number of short stories—for one of which he won an Honorable Mention Pushcart Prize—and poems in such literary magazines as the Sun, the Missouri Review, and Mineshaft. He lives, writes, and teaches in Texas.