Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Junkie of Oz

Junkie Pilgrim
I'm a hardboiled sorta guy that thrives near the underbelly of our society.

From the bottom up life looks a whole lot better. From the top down it looks hugely depressing, if you choose to look down, that is... Some of us will never reach the top. But wherever you are you are within a stone's throw of reality.

I cut my writing teeth in Dublin as a journalist in the early 90s covering the huge heroin problems that plagued the city and its unemployed class. I interviewed quite a few junkies and dealers in that time, not to mention prostitutes and of course the ever-present menace of 'vigilantes' out to reclaim their neighbourhoods.

I also spent some time in Australia in the early 90s, moving between Sydney and Canberra, so when I found Wayne Grogan's Junkie Pilgrim in a friend's book collection I devoured it in a couple of sittings. Here's a wee taster...

 Chris Coates is a junkie, heavy drinker and criminal, trying hard to hold down the dockyards job he "inherited" from his dad, Jack. He had his first heroin hit "on a winter night" in 1975 and now it's the early 1980s. He knows the denizens of Kings Cross, where he buys most of his heroin, unless police or shortages force him further afield. He tries - successfully, for a time - to kick his habit but is drawn back into its world.

There are no happy endings in Grogan's book, as befits the world of the junkie. It starts out bad and gets incrementally worse.

Unfortuantely this book doesn't seem to be available except as a used title at present. Perhaps Wayne would do us a favour and get it out as a eBook.

If there's any question about its pedigree, forget it... Junkie Pilgrim won the 2004 Ned Kelly Award for First Book of Crime - so it has earned its place in the pantheon of Crime classics. 

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