‘Dundun’ by Denis Johnson

A narrator, called Fuckhead, arrives at a midwest farmhouse to score some opium only to be met by a man called Dundun, who tells Fuckhead that he has just shot a man called McInnes. The three of them drive to a hospital but McInnes dies on the way. Fuckhead says, “Will you believe me when I tell you there was kindness in his heart? His left hand didn’t know what his right hand was doing. It was only that certain important connections had been burned through. If I opened up your head and ran a hot soldering iron around in your brain, I might turn you into someone like that.” I could have chosen any one of the 11 short stories that make up this remarkable collection about the heroin-sodden lives of a bunch of junkies and thieves. There is no honour here, just a struggle to score the next fix. Hallucinatory, intense, breathtaking—it’s the finest collection of stories I’ve ever read.

In Jesus’ Son, Faber & Faber, 1992

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