Archive for writing

Junk Talk Interview with James Brown, author of This River

Posted in authors with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2011 by Editors

This River

We had the good fortune to sit down with James Brown, author of the recently released This River from Counterpoint Press. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation. Jim Brown is one of the most thoughtful, humble, and articulate authors writing today.

Tim Elhajj for Junk Talk: I’m a writer and recovering addict. With the stigma of addiction being what it is, I thought long and hard before publicly revealing my problems with drugs. One thing that really impressed me with your writing was how candidly you discuss your own struggles with mental health, alcoholism, and hard drugs—all subjects that have an associated social stigma. Granted the stigma with some of these subjects has softened in the last, say, fifty years, but do you ever feel the weight of having revealed so much of your life in your writing?

James Brown: Yes, like you, I thought long and hard before I decided to come clean about my past in my writing, particularly with my first memoir, The Los Angeles Diaries. Years of alcoholism and addiction had robbed me of my sense of responsibility, ethics, morality, self-confidence and self-esteem. When I was finally able to collect a decent amount of sober time, just over a year, I came to realize that there was no story more important to tell than my struggle with addiction, and I felt that if I didn’t write about it, that I’d never be able to move beyond that part of my life. I needed to tell the truth in order to confront and better understand the nature of my illness, the same illness that destroyed my brother and sister. Their suicides haunted me, and still do. The revealing of my past was painful in the recounting, the remembering, the reliving, the recreating on the page. It wasn’t cathartic, though it did, in the end, give me a sharper perspective and greater understanding of my family and what tore us apart.

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New Junk Essay: Detox by Barry Grass

Posted in journal updates with tags , , , , , , on January 20, 2011 by Tim Elhajj

We have something really special this month from Barry Grass.

When we began discussing what we wanted from Junk, what sort of themes it ought to tackle, the editorial staff here in the lofty heights of Junk Headquarters had hoped to offer readers something different. Something about addiction you can’t find anywhere else. So when Barry’s lyrical essay showed up in our inbox, we were pleased. And there was much rejoicing. You think addiction is all about the addict, but that’s just not true. Never was. Like a pebble tossed into the lake, like a crack in windshield, addiction races outward, in ever increasing circles and fissures.

From the point of view of the virtuous professionals that keep the wheels turning in Detox, this month’s story opens our Winter 2011 issue.

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