Tony O'Neill - The Junkiest Writer in Town

It's not a great time for great literature. Our libraries are potted out with dustbins for a good reason. But there are a few writers who are on the offensive, who are making words dangerous, exciting and readable again. Amongst that lot stands a poet... You'll spot him by the eye-brows: His name is Tony O'Neill.

Tony writes about junk. That's the blurb anyway. He does, kinda, but more than the junk of smack, Tony writes about the junk of modern life: those who are left behind with the free Nokia phones, and the fucked diseased livers. The kind of new age grime that limps into the linoleum waiting rooms of methadone clinics... that finds itself entwined in dirty sheets... that's coughing blood before it's even thirty years old. The junk that wakes up in crumpled blood-splattered suits... that goes to Las Vegas to lose...  that marries into hell... that escapes one ghetto for another.... that is surveyed by airport security...  that flings dead cats from apartment windows... that masturbates to celebrity doctors... that Hollywood cannot make worse... that rehab cannot make better. McDonald's, Methadone clinics, Sunset Boulevard, Murder Mile, piss drenched stairwells, underpasses, alleyways, waiting rooms, healthcare, deathcare, no-care, porn shops to pawn shops,  sodomy, overdrafts, lobotomies, botox, detox ... all shot through with rotten, broken dreams and .5ml of amber coloured hope. A mix of the real and the hyper-real-surreal. A black comedy of the truth, and so not a comedy at all. When you read Tony O'Neill, that is what you get... that is the real junk of the junkiest writer in town.

Still, for all of the above it doesn't make anyone a writer. At the very most it can just give you something to write about. And many people do. Pens for syringes is not a new or original escape plan. There are untold crappy authors out there who spend their days writing about injections they took twenty years ago, boring us to death with the history of how they almost killed themselves, trying desperately to rework the mess into something huge, coherent and meaningful. It's almost as if they think that their story alone will sell them. But it's never really the story that sells, it's the words, and even more – the poetry of the soul: that which cannot be bought, taught nor stolen.  And it's there where Tony rises with the greats: his words become bigger than his subject... bigger than the influences that are forever mentioned alongside his name. So today, just because somebody has to, I'm going to be blasphemous:

Fuck Burroughs!
Fuck Bukowski!
Fuck Dr Hunter Thompson!

Things have changed, and things are changing. Smack's the same but the world we escape from when using it is a whole different place. It has come about that there is more to be said than even the greatest could say... That voices do get old and tiresome once a new one makes itself heard. Tony O'Neill is a new voice, and he is saying new things in a new time: our time. A time even more fucked up than before.

So do yourselves a favour and go and track down some of Mr O'Neill's work. Buy, borrow or steal his books... it doesn't matter... it's that urgent. This post is not an advertisement and is even less about selling hard copies. It is about passing on the word. And the word is Tony O'Neill. And the word is out.

War Every Day - Songs from the Shooting Gallery

Down and Out on Murder Mile

Sick City Signing

Tony reading at the KGB BAR
Tony O'Neill Wikipedia
Two short shorts: 'Hammersmith' &'Live bed Show'
Short Story: Notes from a shipwrecked harbour
Tony O'Neill books on Amazon

PS: For those of you who are already familiar with Tony's work, please take a moment to leave a small review over on Amazon (or some other like place). Just saying "Fucking Brilliant!!!" would be enough... You can even copy and paste if from here.

Take Care All, and a new Memoires post will follow shortly...
Shane. X


Gledwood said...

Burroughs said junkies rarely drank alcohol. How times have changed. Did you know 6 cans or 3 litres of White Ace 7.5% actually involves more alcohol than a full bottle of spirits? No wonder I was having blackouts during that heroin drought. I replaced one thing with the other and quite enjoyed pottering about in a drink daze.

Now I've cut down to that mandy cherry flavour cider 4.7% and only one or two half litre cans a day. I'm doing "really well"...!

What is this mile where all the murder goes on? Mile End? Or where.

PS I think Amazon are going to fuck up the book trade by insisting on piratable e-books.

I'm blessed with a dreadful attention span. I hope it means my writing sells really well. If I don't have patience to go into anything involved my readers won't be tortured either, know what I mean. Only problem is you have to edit etc, which I barely do online, hence my all over the place literary styleeee

I know you sent me an email i think i had manic depression when it came plus my email is so fucked up i got to change addresses it's just chaos in there

Señora B said...

I discovered Tony from one of your earlier posts and I can't thank you enough. I never read anything more raw, more real. The man is a total genius. the kind of writer I wish I was brave enough to be. Will deffo be leaving a review at Amazon.

JoeM said...

I think I’ve started a trend with my ‘Fuck Keef!’…

I find Mr O’Neil’s productivity rate (like your own) very intimidating. And the fact that it’s quality hurts even more. I mean any idiot can turn out quantities of rubbish - just ask Barbara Cartland’s Ghost. (Don’t mean to offend The Ghost Of Tristram Spencer, who I know is her Number One Fan).

I can’t remember if I’ve asked you about Alexander Trocchi - Glasgow’s famousest heroin addict, who pre-dated that Edinburgh pretender Irvine Welsh by some decades. (I like Welsh’s writing but am not qualified to say if he is a fake ex-addict).

Alcohol and Heroin - here’s another Janet and John H question: why don’t Heroin addicts who are in withdrawal just get a bottle of cheap booze (assuming they have the money). Would that not alleviate some at least of the symptoms or conk them out until the withdrawal is over?

Smackhappy said...

hi shane

i'm the same having first discovered tony o'neill on your sidebar.i havn't read a full book yet as the habits still priority but he is absolutely first on my list when chance arises (or like you advise next one i steal! lol)

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Gledwood,

Oh I think what Burroughs said still holds quite true. I know you drink and I also know a few other addicts who do, but from my experience it's still quite an accurate generalism. The addicts who drink (mostly) I've noticed are those who are really struggling with their addiction... who would love to use everyday but oly have funds to use three days a week. So they seem to mix alcohol with methadone and valium to try and get some kind of a gouch. I can't think of any addict I knew personally who had a comfortable habit and also drank.

Murder Mile was an area in Hackney (Lower Clapton Road)which at the turn of the millenium had the most gun killings anywhere in Britain. It's where Tony ended up serving out the last years of his addiction. I suppose if you can give up there you can give up anywhere!

Most writers fuck the book trade up writing absolute shit... you can't blame Amazon for that. Most of it should be given away free... though I hear what you're saying.

Anyway, hope you're well Gledwood... How's the head issues?

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Corte Inglesa... oh, thats nice to hear and good to know that some people take notice of what's put up o the blog. Just be careful using words like 'genius'... this is MY blog and you can only call ME that! haha


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Joe.. you trendsetter!

i've never heard of Trocchi... I'll have a little look around after this. Don't get me wrong, I actually like Irvine Welsh's writing (when he stays at home), and his dialogue is something truly fantastic. I just don't see him as the real deal, and after writing a couple of things like that I had a little search around and found he isn't... but he freely admits it (and so kinda saves himself with his honesty). It was more that which bugged me, reading things about addiction which were so obviously not true that an addict could't have written them. Nothing huge.... no big gaffs, but loads of little things which just didn't make sense.

Janet & John Question...

A few fools do try to drink illness away, but they wuickly find far from helping it just makes you ten times worse. You can't even drink water when you're sick, and so alcohol (and keeping it down!)... no way. Also, anything which will affect you in a way that is unudual will make you even more uncomfortable and you'll then be wantig smack even more. When you're ill what is actually happening is that your body's metabolism is going back to normal (speeding up for the heroin addict). The only thing that will calm the illness is a similar acting opiate. Also, and here's another huge reason: alcohol in the quantities that it'd be needed to knowk you out would cost just as much (or more) as heroin. With that as a choice no one would go for the bottle. A few addicts may say it helps slightly??? I'm not sure, but of those I know it was even a thought (and everything's considered).

Just finished reading through WFJ and noting down the changes. Took a month longer than I anticipated, but after finishing it in December it was nice to have a little break from it. But this month I'll certainly begin in earnest writing the little extras to tie it all together.

Hope you're well Joe... Apart from the fact it's France, all else is wonderful here! X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Smackhappy... if you really can't get hold of a copy send me a mail and I'll send you one of mine... though you'll have to promise to send it back as the ones I have are a little special... burnt... bloodstrewn... but special. X

JoeM said...

Yes I think Irvine Welsh admits he was only on heroin for a short time. I loved the film - the soundtrack especially. I was a cleaner in a cinema when it came out and it was great going from screen to screen with that as a background.

I had no idea you couldn't even drink water coming down from H. They should teach you these things in school...

Naomi C. said...

i'd love to read his stuff, but its not in my local library. i checked on bookcrossing too but nobody had one to send out. i became aware of him at least a year ago, his site is on my favourites.

murder mile is in the uk? i thought it was in hollywood, la- as he moved there didnt he. when he was using there, was he a citizen or on a visa? just curious... always wondered if you are on a visa to stay for a while can you go to a methadone clinic or are you booted out instantly?

i loved jim carrolls basketball diaries, and christian f.
in my opinion, the famous burroughs etc. seem to romanticise and glamourise heroin addiction or rather it is universally interperated as that. couldnt be further than the truth. i know people that have read these found out im a junkie and proceeded to say "wow, cool, ive always wanted to try it," just like i did back in the day, how mistaken i was!!! or actually, no iwasnt, i knew it was the best painkiller in the world and seeked it out to help me get through the years.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Naomi... Hey ya Darling, nice to see you around this way again... X

No, Murder Mile is definitely in the UK. It's what helps make O'neill relevent this side of the Atlantic, as he has captured the British smack scene in his books also. Apart from online writers I'm not sure anyone has truthfully recorded this moment which we're living... certainly not an insider.

My comment of Burroughs & Co. was in no way a criticism of them, as they've served us (and continue to do so) fantastically for decades. It was more my way to say that Tony exists in his own right... that he's not just someone rehashing Burroughs ad saying the same stuff in a different time. It's one of my pet hates, this culture of constantly tagging and labelling new artists to the backs of old ones...trying one's hardest to relate them to anyone but themselves. I suppose it can be helpful at first, but after a moment just becomes an insult. So my "Fuck Keef!" rant was more me putting that straight

Visa.... Methadone Cliics??? I don't know??? maybe he'll leave you a little answer himself.

ok... thaks again for readin and mailing... all My Love & Thoughts, Shane. X

Naomi C. said...

just very curious... i went to america before. now even though i dont have a criminal record, i have this dreadful thought they can access your medical records and will know im a junkie, or it will be on my personal notes!! i know i have to get off methadone to go back there :/ shame, but neh. when i went i plugged gear, and damn, it was at 10.5 hour flight to las vegas, plus the waiting time of about 3 or 4 hours either side. the problem was, i started to cluck and i had to use all my self-control to keep it ahem, in. i dont think it dawned on me, the gravity of the situation, luckily no sniffer dogs but lots of customs checks due to the 9/11 thing. god im a cocky little fuck, i was an idiot. i was going to smuggle a needle or foil glad i didnt, id of been busted straight away. when i arrived, i was sick as a pig, and obviously i was with my mum and had no time to buy foil, so had to snort it. it ran out long before i left and i thus felt shit for the rest of my stay... wanted to jump off the golden gate bridge 4 sure.

ah, ya know, borders (the 5 floored book megastore) got turned into a bloody tkmaxx so we only got a couple of book shops left, i might ring them up and see if they have it now. i should be doing my sociology marxism essays but neh.

John said...

I found him through your sidebar also, and I'm glad I did.

I drive up and down the murder mile pretty regularly, spending time in Hackney, from Mare Street and Frampton, round Dalston and Clapton Pond (I'm mainly in E9, but also into E5 and E8 from time to time)

I found his work honest, uncompromising and interesting.


Tonyoneill said...

Hi Shane

Man, thanks a lot for giving over this post at "memories" to talk about my stuff. I really appreciate that, especially given the fact that you're a writer whose stuff I admire so much. I hope this goes some way to dispel the ugly generalization that all writers are fanatically jealous and spiteful when it comes to each others work... although I don't comment every day I read "Memories" regularly and am always excited to see a new post as I've told you plenty of times and it's a good feeling to know that someone whose stuff you respect so much had good things to say about your own work.

There's not too many writers out there at the moment who i feel I can really relate to in terms of where they came from and the kind of writing they do. It's weird, when I got into the writing game I did it from the direction of having never seriously considered being a writer before, and spending the last lot of years totally strung out. I always say that that first book, 'digging the vein' felt like it came out of nowhere... It was more an act of desperation than a work of literature.

I was always a musician before heroin, that was always my focus, and I think that attacking literature from the point of view of being a musician gives your stuff a different feel. I definitely do feel like an outsider in many ways. There's plenty of writers I like and admire for sure, but not too many that I'd say I feel a real kinship with. But with you, I do feel like we might well be evil twins separated at birth of something. Even i terms of 'where we came from' geographically. I do often wonder if we weren't waiting around on opposite street corners waiting for our respective dealers, unbeknownst that years later we'd have writing in common instead of gear.

Thanks for all the cool comments from everyone who said they'd read or wanted to read the books. Do feel free to go over to the website and read other stuff or drop me a line there.

Just to jump in on what Gledwood and Shane and some others were talking about, I was definitely one of those junkies who didnt touch booze when they were on. I just didnt care for it at all, and I found it almost impossible to get drunk when I had a habit (the booze would just make me feel bloated and sick). in fact when I came off of gear the last time I knew when i was 'clean" finally because I was able to get drunk and enjoy it.

Tonyoneill said...


@ Naomi C

just to answer your question I did spent most of my smack years in LA. I had a visa - married a girl out there and was doing the paperwork when we broke up. So I was never 'fully' official, and worked off the books basically didnt exist in any official sense. It was easy to get on the methadone program because I did have a state ID from when I had a temporary visa. All you needed at the clinic was an ID. It was definitely one of the scuzzier clinics out there, a place on Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga were they used to do the old 30 day detox. You had to fail at the detox 3 times before you'd qualify for the maintenance program. You had to be there between 7 and 9 am every day to get dosed (very convinient for your average junkie, right?) and you had to drink your dose on site. The place was also some kind of clinic for post op transexuals, so the clientele was split fairly evenly between junkies and transvestites. Outside the clinics, the transvestites would sell their painkillers to the junkies as they left. The worst thing about the clinic was the cost - back then it was twelve dollars per dose. If you didnt have your 12 dollars, you didnt get your dose. The thing is once they started seriously cutting you down you'd be sick as a dog, and eventually have to make the decision - 12 bucks for a weak ass dose of methadone that won't keep you well, or go downtown were the guys would sell heroin in 7 dollar bags? Funnily enough, there werent too many success stories at that clinic.

I actually moved back to London because - although it wasn't perfect by any means - they did at least have a marginally better methadone program than LA.

JoeM said...

That's an interesting affirmation of the alcohol/H thing, Tony. It seems that Heroin is a drug apart from all the others - dope/speed/alcohol/Coke etc that are combinable. H doesn't like mixing...feels superior yet insecure. A good Memoirs post might be

The Ten Commandments of Heroin:

(1) Thou shalt not have any other drugs before me.

(2)Thou shalt not commit adultery with ANY other drugs.


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Tony,

yeah that writer animosity thing... it was one of my considerations when writing the post, and a clear enough statement on my thoughts on that. I much prefer the history of friendship to that of rivalry. I'm also confident enough of my own words not to get into stuff like that... I really think it's words which seperate writers not subject matter, and I don't think anyone would ever mistake my words for yours or yours for mine. So there's not really any cheese to fight over. That's not to say I wouldn't trawl book shops laying my copies over the top of yours... I would.. haha.

Oh yeah I'm sure we must have been only corners away in those years you were scoring in hammersmith... as i told you once before I started reading Murder Mile with the self-delusion that I may even turn up in it! I was kinda leafing through and scanning descriptions... But no... completely overlooked again!


As a full-time addict I would sip the occassional beer or glass of wine, but I was the same as you: first time in years I actually got drunk was on being clean. It tells a story all of its own. But I have this weird thing with alcohol (actually any substance that affects how I feel) it instantly makes me crave heroin to bring me back to normality. And it's hard enough top resist the temptation of scoring sober... with ones don't-give-a-fuckness heightened by alcohol... it's impossible. Friends have learnt that after two pints i mysteriously disappear...

The post... It was my pleasure. Your name should be around here... it makes even more sense that way. Maybe in years to come our little correspondences here will become fascinating... I've always one eye on history (the other on my gear!)

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Joe... there is one drug where adultery is very common practice with heroin users: Crack cocaine.

I have my own ideas as to why this is, but won't go into just now.

In fact, quite a lot of addicts get into heroin off the back of cocaine. They start using H to settle themselves from the comedown of coke/crack and then gradually find themselves getting a heroin habit. It then comes that funds are low, and now instead of buying an hours worth of crack they spend their last dollars on brown which will last a good deal longer.

My mother got into heroin via that route. X

The Skull Was A Present said...

Hey Tony,

me as well I got to read your books through Shane. Though I must say, what I most enjoyed were your poems. "Romance" is so, so beautiful.


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Skull was a Present... fuck me, what bad smell brought you out the woodwork?

And don't answer: "Tony O'Neill!"


Tristram's Mum said...




JoeM said...

Tristram's Mum:

If you had any shame you would climb into the grave with your son!

Where were you when he was hanging himself above a toilet bowl!


_Black_Acrylic said...

I've had Digging the Vein on my wish list for a good long while, long enough to get around to finally buying a copy. Which I will do, very soon.

Trocchi comes highly recommended from myself. Cain's Book is the one to go for, and he also wrote some pornographic material that has a heavy existential outlook. The Scottish publisher Rebel Inc reissued a bunch of his novels a few years ago, so they're easy enough to come by.

John D said...

I'd never heard of him before which is strange as i work harder than most tracking down writers of THE subject. will defo be buying one of his books on my next jaunt to Foyles, which will be next week as still have an unused book voucher from xmas. knew it was worth holding onto!

sent you a mail last week and you never replied :)

Sailor said...

Thankyou Shane.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya John... you nearly got lost in amongst that lot!

Glad you went out and got a book or two of Tony's... it makes the little sidebar highlight worthwhile.

Hope you're well, and hope there's still decent gear a hop a way... wish it was the case for me! X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Joe... Good on you reminding Tristram's Mum of her own guilty role in the death of the 6ft of tragedy which was Tristram Spencer. And you know what's worse? She didn't even make it to the funeral. How fitting! X

Stacy said...

hi shane-

thank you for the recommendation...i figure you wouldn't steer me wrong. i loved the readings you posted and the short stories i read. i ordered 3 of his books since your side bar demanded it and i am sure i won't be disappointed.


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Ben,

After Joe mentioning Trocchi I had a little look around and will definitely try and track down some of his work. I have seen the film Young Adam, but that's the nearest I've got to reading him... The films not amongst my favourites, but are a few nice scenes.

I've not read Digging the Vein, but it lead to other book being published and that says enough by itself.

Hope you're well.. I'll send a little mail in the week and we can catch up. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya John D,

Oh, definitely use your book voucher for that... I promise you, you'll not be disappointed. If you are, i'll send you my book list and you can choose one for free and I'll post it to you.

Your yeah... a reply forthcoming... haha... really, there will be...

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

WorldBones, Thank You back! Now we're even... my final debt paid in full. X

@ Tony: WorldBones has a couple of pics and words up on his blog.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Stacy, Oh thank you!!! That's very kind and you'll really not be disappointed.

You're gonna get FIVE kisses today (just don't remind me what it means!)


Anonymous said...

as if i'm going to give my money to fucking junkys!

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


You've just done worse than giving us your money... you've given your time.

Take care anyway, Shane. X

Sailor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sailor said...

Thanks for your holy acknowledgement but i'm a she (the she in the picture <---);-P

"Gauching like a whore on the bathroom floor.."

I've loitered here most evenings after a dig &a smoke. Ive played ur songs to my shotbuddy. Your words keep the mind ticking over instead of regressing into the nihilistic void. Such seedy eloquence..

Yours, Sailor xx

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Mademoiselle WorldBones... excuse me!!! I'm always making gaffs like that... sometimes waking up besides them!

Also thanks for passing your evenings here and evening remembering someyjig I've said... not even I can do that!


Sarcastic Bastard said...

Thanks for the tip, buddy.

Love you to bits. Hope all is well.


Dusty Rose said...

I've heard you talk about Tony O'Neill before, and I've looked him up a bit. He looks pretty badass, and when I run across one of his books somewhere I'll most definitely buy it and not let it rest in my 'waiting to be read' graveyard.
I'd agree with the distance between a real habit and alcohol. I was a huge alcoholic before I started junk, and then it stopped while I was on it real hard. When I was trying to quit but still picking it up once or twice a week I would mix the two and chaos would ensue.
All the beast,
p.s. 'fuck burroughs' kinda hurt. ;)

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Ya SB... just spreading the word.. all the way to Ohio! Love retured as ever... Shane. XXX

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Dr Rose,

Yeah 'Fuck Burroughs!' was a bit of a low blow, but was really just me saying there's another name to add to the list, and not alongside it. I'd write it exactly the same again. But it wasn't actually directed against Burroughs or Bukowski or Hunter S, rather against those reviewers who review books in comparison to other writers and label the artist as everything but himself. If Tony didn't write about dope no-one on the planet would compare him to such writers, and so it is a subject and not a stylistic thing. It just annoys me, and people have done it here, to me also. So it's a pet hate and I wanted at least to say "No, this guys his own force... you should read him for that."

Hope all your projects are going along well... you're another I badly need to send a mail to and catch up properly. and I will. Love as Always, Shane. X

Wildernesschic said...

Hey genius how are you ?
Love this guy Tony, as you know I have a soft spot for a little poetry, especially something with an edge. I would love to be able to recite on webcam but far too shy and would giggle too much.
Looking forward to another "memoires" post
Love as always Ruth xx

Anonymous said...

The Harsh Reality of Drug Addiction richardmclaughlin007 — January 18, 2009 — after 11 months of sobriety from drug addiction, in 7 short days this man hits the depths of despair and insanity.

This video was shot in Vancouvers downtown eastside by the narrator it is quite extreme, It shows how common place and and readily available drugs are and how people can succomb to a extreme physical reaction from lack of sleep, nutrition and dehydration. This video was made for many different reasons, one being educational the other as mentioned earlier it's common place here in Vancouver, in any other city or town in North America this man would have recieved immediate medical attention but here in Vancouver both the police and ambulance just drive by. If you do not belive me come on down and see our little human circus slash "HARM REDUCTION EXPERIMENT"
This man was spotted two hours later sleeping on a concrete curb as his pillow.
Both the narrator and producer of this video have had spent many years struggling with addiction and have spent hard time in Vancouvers "NOTORIOUS" downtown eastside.
Today they have escaped and are clean and sober and now dedicate there lives to those who still suffer from "THE HARSH REALITY OF ADDICTION"

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Ruth... you get a cheeky slap on the arse for calling me a genius! Oh, and you should definitely record some spoken verse... God, if I'll put media up with me bloody well singing, I'm sure nothing you could utter would be as embarrassing (or out of tune) as that! So go for it. And if possible try and get hold of a copy of one of Tony's books (even ordering it at the library). For poetry there's some of his best stuff in 'Songs from the Shooting Gallery'. If i've time I'll type a couple out and mail you them during the week. XXX

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


You're obviously affiliated with that fuckwit SEAN HEANEY. I gave him what-for over on the Junky Underground after he came doing the rounds with God in tow.

There he is, shopping dealers to the cops... calling them indiscriminate killers etc, and then fitting his own fucking site out with Coca-Cola & McDonald adverts. There was even one advert associated with diamond mining!!!

So as you was rude enough to comment on a post and not pay even the slightest recognition to the artist it was related to, then I'm gonna be just as rude and do something I very rarely do:

Fuck OFF ad don't come back you Cocksucking piece of slime!

Shane. X

Paul Curran said...

Beautifully urgent, Shane. I think Tony has taken a lot of 'junky writer' shit from people who are probably more jealous of his success than anything. So excellent to see this post by someone who knows the score.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Paul...

'junky writer shit'... thats what I was struggling to say! Yeah he has and I don't like it, though it may have been useful as a kickstart. But maybe he doesn't mind the tag??? It's more a personal thing to me.

Anyway, great to see you here and I hope all's well, Shane. X

John said...

Hi Shane - the good stuff is just a hop away, and there's plenty of it. It's not the best in the world but it's pretty fucking good in relation to what's been about. It's going for 50 a gram (.8). When I next get a decent cheque (end March, prob), if it's still about I might even send you a bit. Or I may go down to Hackney and get something even better...

Smelling it as it cooks is a never-ending joy, and the ritual of filling the pin, admiring it, then slamming it home is only enhanced by the waves of warmth that was over me, helping me float down onto the sofa, while an hour or so away, and making my evening jobs so much less challenging.

Had to shift my blog owing to a work nosy parker - catch me now at

Keep well, and keep lucky.


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hi again John,

£50 for 0.8? It's still double price. I can still get 3 for £25 in places, but most have stopped that for the moment and are only doing tenner bags with no deals. As you say, it's not the greatest, but is still 6 or 7/10 and gives you a proper nod.

Things seem to be picking up everywhere... even our Irish friends are having decent stuff filtering through a couple of times a week. Looks like it'll be a great summer.

If you ever manage to send a bag or so i'll reimburse you. It's a nice thought but I always prefer to pay for what I take and I can also put a bag or two in for you.

Until soon, Shane.

John said...

I'm in Norfolk, so it's always more pricey - I've been getting proper eighths are going at less than a one-er in London.

People are trying to pull 20 for .15 bags, generally taking the piss, so I think that 50 for .8 works ok. At least it gives me a nod.

Summer is looking bright, but I think i'm going to be up and down to London a fair bit.


Tor SR Thidesen said...

Fuck Burroughs and Bukowski? TAKE THAT BACK!

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Tor,

You must be joking? Take it back? Things have changed and other voices become relevant. I'd write exactly the same again.

But you've completely misunderstood the sentiment. It's not:

Fuck Burroughs! (as ignore him)

it's: Fuck Burroughs! (as in: ignore what certain reviewers say!)

Fuck Burroughs! This is Tony O'Neill... someone from NOW!

Do you understand? Things have changed and new things are being said about those changes.

Sometimes, to move on, we have to put away old things... if not, what does it make you? A conservative???

What I would have liked to hear from you would have been:

Fuck Burroughs? really? God, then I really must get a hold of one of O'Neill's books!


Gledwood said...

Yeah I never had enough funds to cover my habit, even when I "worked" (by begging) I used a 0.4g bag morning/afternoon and a 0.2g bag evenings as minimum so even on a g I wasn't really on enough when I had money I went to about 2.5g a day and that was my natural amount, with less I just needed drink, I know that might sound a lot but I'm just being frank and not talking bullshit, i'm fed up of the drugs clinic for pressing me to spout shit in recent years saying i was doing really well when i was doing fucking shit

head issues: got a diagnosis schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type... if not then rapid cycle bipolar type 1. This is straight from the dr's mouth AT LAST

Gledwood said...

shit i'm lying! i used to use every single day, all day and i still used drink on top! i remember doing £100B and still needing drink on top to feel normal.../good fucking hell! that sounds like a lot of money now

Tonyoneill said...

hey everyone

thanks for everyone who left comments about my stuff since i last peeked in... thanks again shane for doing this and getting the word out - much appreciated. @ worldbones - thanks for putting me on your blog, liked your blog a lot i was fascinated and terrified in about equal measure...

and paul c - about the junky writer' thing. i never minded that at all. however, what i always hated is how somehow the insinuation that because you write about this stuff youre not a 'real' writer or whatever (an extension of them just lumping you in with every other writer who was open about their drug use). i remember one of this first reviews i got - for the first book - was along the lines of 'great writing, but ca he write about anything else?'

i mean, nobody ever reviews franzen or whoever, and ask, 'like the book, but can he write about anything else than white, middle class americans?' do they?

Sailor said...

Why thankyou mr o'neil, I aim to fascinate and terrify ;)

I think you're right about the 'junky writer' thing. We write what we live. The moment you write with the intention of pleasing the reader or being heterogenous or diverse for the sake of it, you start losing immediacy and truth. The best job we can do as writers is use language to depict our version of reality. Books create empathy.

Sailor x

Ps I used to live on Murder Mile. This shithole bedsit on lower clapton road. When I moved out I found a dead mouse under my bed *shudders*

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey again Gledwood,

well I've learnt that there's always the exception to the rule and the exception is always the person you're speaking to. It'ss like when I say people "people don't take heroin and go out dancing" the person I've said that to will automatically say "I do!". So i've learnt to only base observations on what I've actually seen and not what I've heard or been told. I've just never seen a stable addict who also drinks, though I'm sure there are some as heroin is not a cure for alcoholism. So from my experiences Burrough's observation is still very true and one i'd make myself if hehadn't fone so already.

Head issues: that's good you've been almost diagnosed, and whether that diagnosis is correct or not at least they can start to tailor make a treatment plan for you.

my Best as ever, Shane.

Gledwood said...

you know what you said though about people on scripts it was being like that for a couple of years that turned me into a dependent drinker, if i'd had heroin every day during that phase i'd never have become dependent on drink that's for sure.

i do unfortunately match the description of that diagnosis especially the european icd 10 one where you have mixed episodes; the american dsm iv one says you have bipolar episodes then residual schizzy stuff but i have some type of up or down nearly all the time now ... it's not that terrible, it's like having a free trippy e or being on the comedown from it, i mean there's about 1000 other illnesses that are a lot worse. it was weird sitting there hearing the shrink dictate a letter (because he wanted me to hear what went in it) listing "elevated mood" as a symptom. this is my point there's a LOT worse things in life than elevated mood know what i mean!

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey again Gleds,

yeah starting drinking after being put on a script is exactly what I've observed, at least where it often begins. I never done that, but only because I cannot bare the feel of alcohol in my body... it just makes me desire ever more a fix to put me right.

That the docs are at last treating you based on a diagnosis that you feel is really near to what you feel is important. The worst thing in the world is knowing that they've kinda disregarded all your info and own observations and are treating you along the lines of some out-moded textbook or their own hunches must ahve been terrible. OK, just because we are within our own bodies doesn't mean we are experts over them, but our observations and ideas (especially around something as murky as mental illness) must be listened to. very often they're not.

When I was 17 I started tripping from marijuana. I had been smoking d aily for two years and one day I went into a full LSD type trip and couldn't shirk it off. For two days i was tripping, and then was freaked out so much by the experience that I became absolutely paranoid, having constant panic attacks and felt like I was losing my mind. I went to the hospital... they sent me home. I went to my doctor.. worse. I told him: "When I read or concentrate it doesn't happen and so I think I am imagining it. Still, that doesn't help for most the day." His advice before sending me packing was "Well just read more!"

For two years that went on for. Everyday suddenly having flashbacks and the world seeming unreal (just like being stoned). That's when I tried buprenorphine (temgesic/subutex). For the first time in months I suddenly felt normal... God, the relief! Of course after that I started using them as much as I could to help with the panic attacks and imagined psychosis. And that's really where my first magical moments came from opiates... where they relieved me in such a way as they felt like magic. But all I really needed was for the hospital or Doc to have listened to me... take me seriously and maybe have prescribed me some calmants for a week. They didn't and I fell into what was essentially heroin.

After a couple of years, the probs and panic attacks just stopped and all was normal again (with or without opiates). So it was all in my mind.. I had just had a huge scare and was completely paranoid for a moment. Of course, the opiates didn't stop once the initial problem did... I found other problems that opiates where good for,a nd each time a problem got solved I found another and another and another... until finally even opening my eyes without a morning fix was a problem.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Tony, it was a pleasure to put the post up and maybe one day, for people reading this in years to come, it will be even more interesting than it is now.

The 'Junky writer' tag... I think that's half the reason why people will even question if you can write about anything else. For me, you're not a 'junky writer', you're a writer, and I think if we broke your books down and analysed them we'd find that most your sentences are about things other than 'junk'. So people reading and only tagging that part of your work is not so much fuelling the fire as starting the fucking thing. I absolutely agree with the Franzen thing you said. That's it. But that also kinda backs up what I think.

Franzen is maybe thought of/known as writing around or 'commenting' on a very certain part of American society, but he is not 'tagged' as being that. There are numerous ways I could explain as to why i think that is, one reason being i think his subject is thought of as something too big to be contained in a tag - that within his domain almost every aspect of the world and life can arise, and so his scope as a writer (what can be said off the back of his subject ) is almost unlimited. So he's regarded as a 'writer'... he can write about anything he decides to put his words to. I think there is also a case that with a writer like Franzen many casual readers could read him and never even realize he writes about 'white, middle class americans'... it's not as blatant as a group of junkies. There are also intellectual pretensions attached to that kind of social commentating. But the world of junk is really no different (no group of people or lives are). The world of junk and junkies is also a sprawling net that catches every aspect of life and living within it. It doesn't just bring up weird things from the bottom of the sea which look like a pair of blue bollocks. But 'junk' is a VERY small sub-group, and is very extreme, and so the subject becomes BIGGER than the words. It is not a vague subject at all and cannot really be done subtly unless in complete metaphor (and I fucking hate that!) So with the boundaries so seemingly well defined people naturally wonder: 1) how much can exist to write about of such a small specialized group? 2) Is the needle the real specialized subject? Outside of cooking heroin to liquid and describing the immense pleasure of hitting a vein, is there anything else the writer can or has to say?
So the tag 'Junky writer' for me is a huge problem, and even if it may help to start with it is something which needs to be shirked off and abandoned along with the old monkey herself.

A similar tag, though along completely different lines, is 'southern writer', who are forever compared to Faulkner, etc – NO MATTER how diverse their actual writing is. It's an easy tag because the South is (like junk) a seemingly small inbred sub-species which drinks, rapes, drives pick-up trucks and goes to jail. That's it. Nail that, and the seven or so personalities who live and die it and there's nothing left. Only there is! There's a hell of a lot left... as much as writing about an entire nation.

Gay writers (naturally) get it in the arse as well. That Dennis Cooper is mostly only to be found in the 'gay section' of bookshops is a crime. That there even is a thing called a 'gay section' is an even bigger crime. But there it gets very, very complex, as certain 'tags' are also huge victories in freedom and acceptance. So I'll finish here by saying that the things which free us often have a terrible habit of only serving to trap us in another way. A tag can be wonderful for a while but can all too easily become the rock that weighs your body down, that not only becomes your headstone but what is written on it too.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


The above comment was for you also as it touches more upon my thoughts on the 'junky writer' tag thing.

And you really touch upon my whole point when you say '(not) trying to be diverse'. That's right because we don't need to try... we already are diverse. To write well around junk is to automatically be writing well about various other problems and aspects of life. That's why the tag is no good.. it looks through everything else and focusses on the eye of the needle.


JoeM said...

I've always been ambivalent about the Gay Novel or Gay Writer tag. I like the idea of having a gay section in a bookshop but not at the expense of having a presence ALSO in the main section. It's the same with a lot of the genres I like - Science Fiction/Fantasy/Crime. They all get marginalised. Also Black Writing/Women's Studies etc.

I actually wrote to our local Borders and asked them to put a copy of an anthology I edited - on Scottish Gay Writing - in the main shelves or at least the Short Stories shelves rather than the Gay Section, where only the gays would dare to venture (even I feel a bit embarrassed standing under that heading - you feel a bit like an exhibit). They refused. Thing is the book had as many straight writers as gay - Irvine Welsh, James Kelman, Alasdair Gray etc. Even the Scottish Section would have been preferable! (Can you believe they have a Scottish section in a Scottish book store! I'd love it if gay bookshops had a little Hetero Section way up the back of the shop).

So we know what the minorities are: junkies/queers/blacks/women etc.What is the Majority? Books about middle-aged straight white men going through a mid life crisis?

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Joe,

yeah this is why I said it gets very complicated because I'm not really against the 'gay' tag either, though like you would also like to see much more of it in the mainstream section too.

I'm writing quite a long winded comment to your reply and will post it some time this evening. It's an interesting thing thinking more about it.


Stacy said...

Just finished Sick City and I loved it. Also, in this case, I guess I am glad I am a weird acknowledgment reading freak...


Sweden said...

I'm going to get this book.
Also i fully agree with you, i bought Burroughs book "junky" and it was incredible b-o-r-i-n-g.

If you like reading junky books, check out my x boyfriends book "the crooked beat" by drew gates, its really good. About him being a junky in bankok and calcutta. You would have to order it online from the "go fuck yourself" press.

I've already heard all the stories in his book,all true stories, but yes it's fantastic.
highly recommend it.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

@ Stacy: Oh that's great and really nice to see that someone has REALLY bought and read a book from this post. X

@ Joe: Your coment is still hanging limp on a word document... it'll be tomorrow now. But at least it still exists, poor Tony mailed me earlier explaining how he'd written a 2000 word comment on the 'junky writer' subject and on posting it, it got swallowed up by Blogger... all gone!!!


Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Sweden,

Oh, I don't think Burroughs is boring... far from it. Junky is a genuine classic and original work and nothing about Burrough's work could or would I ever say is boring. But other writers do exist and just because they mention the word 'heroin' in their books doesn't mean they must be compared to Burroughs. Also good writers have very distinctive voices and even if they wrote about the same day in the same waiting room of the same methadone clinic, those pieces would be as different from one another as a Bacon painting is to a Hockney. The only thing that they'd share would be subject matter.

I even saw that someone has reviewed your friend's book saying "It reminded me of Burroughs!"

Have these people got nothing else to say? It's a really cheap review (especially when that is all they have to say - and it was!) That they've read a hundred pages of a writer and concluded it reminds them of someone else is just nonsense. I guarantee you that if your friend's book was written in exactly the same style only about something else NO-ONE would bring up Burroughs name. They do it as a matter of course... they've nothing else to say and it really means they've never read Burrough's or the book they are reviewing. I mean, they may have 'physically' read them, but they missed everything from both writers in between.

Hope you're well over there... All wonderful here... Love and Thoughts, Shane. X

Sweden said...

really lol
his book or style is nothing like burroughs, but it's as you say he mentions "heroin" and they immediately compare.

I helped him out on his book, we would snort oxy 80's and i would proof read and give advice.
we dated and lived together for two years, he never did relapse on heroin, but he did start to shoot oxys and smoked crack for a few months which thanks to me (well thanks to himself too of course) he got off (crack really does change a person drastically).
he moved back home to Australia to try to get 100% off drugs and we broke up (kinda hard to do long distance from there haha)

I really do recommend the book, Drew is a very interesting person.
And i hope that's just not because i know him very well personally, i'm pretty sure somebody else that didn't would find the book amusing as well.

He was and always will be the greatest love of my life (in human form)

Gledwood said...

Hi Shane I just read your reply. Yes unless you have clearcut symptoms of mania or psychosis they fucking miss what you're saying.

When I came in the room on full mania I could feel the guy go "oh my God!" and he's a consultant psychiatrist he asked "is this you?" which I took to mean either "are you faking?" or "are you somebody else?" not what I finally figured out he meant which is "is this you straight?" it took WEEKS to realize what he probably meant. this shrink is a good one and this comment is the one headfucker he's ever come out with the other one is a real mind-game player and I just cannot be doing with people being clever with me they have to be ultra-direct and straightforward when i'm in that state or i might come off thinking God knows what.....

so your dr told you to fuck off for having panic attacks? a panic attack is just about as bad as it gets in psychiatric horribleness

i nearly had one today, nearly had one when i was really manic, it got so intense it was like when you walk past a road drill, except this was the high in my head. ULTRA intense i vanished into the centre of a spiral and stood on top of everything looking down. i got that high.

no drug ever took me close to that the only comparisons are crack and acid, if you did them together maybe they'd feel like that. acid can be ultra-intense but i never got to a point of nonexistence on it.

on ketamine i like everyone lost my ego at full-on doses then i came out of it and realized i was a person with a life and a name and how weird it all felt

if you want to read about ketamine the link for Journeys to the Bright World by Marcia Moore and Howard Alltounian is in my "international drugs info" section

Gledwood said...

Journeys to the Bright World is the all-time ketamine classic.

They dont call that stuff techno-smack for nothing. I used to love ketamine... but nowhere near as much as some other people.

I always thought it was weird that a growm woman who had always "been tripping for 2 days" would look down on someone else calling her "a K-head" then again druggies are nothing if not snobs... y'know..!

BMelonsLemonade said...

After reading this post, I bought "Digging the Vein." And it is amazing. Thanks.

Stacy said...

@bmelons...i am reading that one now, is amazing!

Sailor said...

Shane, when are you going to put up another Memoires post? I keep checking back in moments of idleness (of which there are many).

Silence is sexy
Silence is sexy
So sexy
So sexy
Just your silence is not sexy at all
Just your silence is not sexy at all
Your silence is not sexy at all!

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...


One of the things you'll learn quite quickly here is that any promise from me on when a post may be put up carries absolutely no weight at all. I jusr don't know,and I prefer it that way.

I used to try and post twice a week and that got vrey boring and my heart wasn't really in many of them early posts (they were just to supply demand). When I gave up on that kind of posting I still felt the need to give some news and so I started posting apologies between posts, making excuses as to why I hadn't posted. then I thought "FUCK IT!" I'll post only when I really feel to (when I've something nice to post) and for that i'll not give in to the online demand for bitesize posts, but will post betqween 4 - 10 pages of whatecver it is I have to say. And so thats what I do now. i post maybe every four weeks but something I feel is worthwhile and original and worthy of me and the people reading here.

And not everything I write I post.In the last two weeks I have completed two posts but decided I didn't like neither of them and so they now sit with about fifty others as word docs on my computer. But I am writing one just now and that will be posted within the next week. I'll even tell you the title:

Love Me Tender in the Ghetto

Five days and that'll be up... absolute promise! haha

A case in point:

poor Joe M has been waiting for a reply to his comment for almost a week now. I promised him an answer 'tomorrow evening' and as yet.. well... nothing.

Five days Sailor... five little days...XXX

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

@ Sailor:

ps: more of my work can be read at:

Waiting For John

and there's also lots of pieces of my 'short fiction' which I've collected from various places around the web and put them altogether on one of the Memoires pges. So theres quite a bit to read... Xxx

JoeM said...

I'd forgotten all about that!

Really, there's no schedule - nobody deserves posts. I like the way you're doing it now - the long posts with longer intervals.

Anyway,after the almost daily Waiting for John stuff you deserve a rest!

(Poor Abigail could hardly keep up with a comment a day...)

I don't know if you get UK TV but there's a program on STV on Monday at nine about Dennis Nilsen. Just think, he'll soon be known as 'The killer of the father of world famous best selling author Shane Levene'. It will be his main claim to fame!

Sailor said...

ok, ok i get it. I'm just impatient. Just don't do a dissappearing act, you've gone some way to restoring my faith in human beings.

I've followed your trails all over. I've looked at your art, read your fiction. Seems it's your 'truth' that hooks people though. Maybe the time for fiction has passed.

Every night i dream of the apocalypse. I'm panicking, hoping i excavate my story before it gets buried under opiate numbness or we all die.

You do so well being creative whilst you're using. When I grew up obsessing over burroughs, the velvet underground, spacemen 3.. it always seemed that heroin was an inspiration, you know?

The first time you have to tap a vein other than the mainline in your arms is when the glamour fades. Shooting into your feet doesn't hold quite the same 'vogue', it's not how it happens in the movies..

It takes over, to a point where your whole life is just a waiting game. Waiting for your man but not writing a goddamn song about it. Maybe it was easier when the gear was more pure. It's never enough these days. As soon as you've banged up you're thinking about how to get another bag. Creativity dissipates.

But maybe your words have woken me up. As I write this the Boy is cooking up, my shot is waiting in the spoon and i'm writing this instead. For the first time in years words have affected me as much as the sight of amber filling a syringe.

Sorry for going on. Gonna go do my shot now.


JoeM said...

Shooting into your feet doesn't hold quite the same 'vogue', it's not how it happens in the movies.

For the first time in years words have affected me as much as the sight of amber filling a syringe

Sailor, you're a pretty great writer yourself - I'd like to see that book too.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Sailor,

Memoires kinda gets a big reaction but its more because its my kinda base... a place where I can always be contacted and found, but personally I don't think my best writing is on this site, and NEVER will be in memoir. That has an emotional pull, but a lot of the stuff here I feel could be improved greatly if fictionalized. I also think some of the stuff written on WFJ surpasses writing here in terms of quality and poetry.

Something that may surprise you is that I'm really against the idea of releasing a Memoir book... especially as a first offering. I don't think the stuff here really shows what I can do. I've a couple of very serious books I'm slowly putting together in private and the stuff in them is really something special to me. I don't think the time for fiction is over, au contraire, I think the time for Memoir is almost shot through bloody.

I think also my different writings gain a different view depending on who is reading them and their own relation to the words. Heroin addicts will always get what I'm doing more through memoires than through the tale of a man who murders his lover and then kills himself. But I relate just as much to the lonliness and eccentricity of the latter as I do to the life of the former; and many of the WFJ readers really don' get from memoires what hey did from that. My inbox is a very even mix of people from all my online work, and really I just see it all as one and the same thing: they're all little pieces of Me... often the fiction is more truthful than he memoir. And never forget the writings here are not a MEMOIR OF MY LIFE... just memoirs of my life under addiction, and thats a very small part of who I am. Some huge persoanl things are not even mentionned here because they have nothing to do with dope, or because they may terribly hurt people very close to me. It really is 'Memoires of a Heroinhead' and not 'Memoires of Shane L'

I'll comment about creativity and smack some other time... I've done so quite a bit before. I may even write a post on it. All I'll say now is I never produce anything on H. If I'm writing I am using methadone. My mind is still very creative under heroin, but actually getting them out and edited is a whole different thing. In my five years og addiction in London I filled one small notepad and hundred of loose pages with the tails of unfinished words running off the bottom of the page as I once again nodded out. The most important and urgent letter of my life took me four months to write and another 2 weeks to post. It all comes way too late on smack... nothing gets much further than the head.


Sailor said...

JoeM.. thanks a load for that, it means a lot xxx

i love this comments section, it's like a cool little respite for intellectual junky critters. A crack in the pavement we all fell through and decided to set up camp in.. or something.. (sry im smoking hehe)

Anyhow, thanks for letting me join y'all ;P Will write something substantial later on


Gledwood said...

Shane Im going to email you so keep your eyes peeled for it. I can't talk here. I'll be in touch soon its important

Unknown said...

I have been checking here a few times a day for the past week since I am not sure of the time difference. Just wanted to let you know that not all of your loyal readers comment, I have been coming around for the past two years, on the ins and outs of my opiate use. I haven't done heroin for about a year, but I have been getting about just as high on methadone, or isomethadone that a friend of mine makes. It's shootable, but only having done opiates for 4 years I have probably as few veins left as you do. A heroin habit in the US, or at least the midwest is barely doable. Well, that's enough rant for now, can't wait to read your next post. -H.

Sailor said...

Hey Tony I just messaged you over on your site about obtaining a copy of Down and Out. Just devoured Sick City in a single session whilst waiting for my guy to switch on (he never did). But i'm aching to be cast back into the beautiful hell of your deviant narrative come rattle or gouge. Mail me if poss. S xx

The Total Impostor said...

Poetry is so uncool, its cool - Know your Fool

Cadan Henry said...

men were certain thousands of years ago that the bow and arrow meant the end of the world.


Scarlett said...

I just picked up Tony's book, Down And Out On Murder Mile today. Interesting that I saw your post here about his books. Glad to know I got a good book to read here.

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