A Junkie's Christmas

By Jeff Deeney 12/16/11

William S. Burroughs gives a new spin to the season with help from Francis Ford Coppola.

William S. Burroughs Photo via

It's that time of year again when all addicts should hunker down by the hearth fire to listen to William Burroughs, beat generation literary rogue and patron saint of down-and-out dopefiends everywhere, tell the story of The Junkie's Christmas. It's the heartwarming tale of Danny the Car Wiper, a dopesick and desperate heroin addict just sprung from 72 hours in a holding cell who goes on a holiday quest to cop a bag and get well. If you're familiar with Burroughs' unconventional and frequently obscene fiction you won't be surprised that the story takes some macabre twists before arriving at an unusually earnest happy ending. The video version of the story is brought to life in claymation, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The soundtrack is from Burroughs' critically acclaimed 1993 spoken word album, Spare Ass Annie, which pairs the author's short story readings with hip hop beats produced by Michael Franti in an uncannily seamless fashion.

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Jeff Deeney is a social worker, freelance writer and recovering addict in Philadelphia. He is a contributor to the Atlantic and has written for the Daily Beast, The Nation, and The Marshall Project. Follow Jeff on Twitter.