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HUNCKE, Herbert.

Elsie John and Joey Martinez.

Two stories. Print by Leni Fuhrman.

New York, Pequod Press, 1979 Stock Code: 141945

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Signed limited edition, number 4 of 100 copies signed by both the author and the illustrator, and bound in unique handmade patterned paper-covered boards. Perhaps the first ten or so copies were specially bound in hardback, the rest of the issue being bound in wrappers.
Herbert Huncke (rhymes with junkie) was the charismatic street hustler, petty thief, and perennial drug addict who gave Burroughs his first fix, and the figure who is properly credited with introducing the term "beat" to the group argot. Huncke (1915-1996) picked up this carny slang, meaning poor, broken, and beaten down, amid his Times Square milieu of addicts and losers. Huncke is portrayed as Ancke in Holmes's novel Go (1952), Elmo Hassell in Kerouac's On the Road (1957), and Herbert, the protagonist in Burroughs's first book, Junkie (1962). He appears under his own name in innumerable Ginsberg poems, including Howl (1956) with its reference to "Huncke's bloody feet".
Torgoff notes that Elsie John, "a six-foot five-inch man who passed himself off as hermaphrodite, was the forerunner of the pill-popping drag queen, and mesmerized Huncke. The 'piddling amounts' of heroin she let him taste were enough to ignite his lifelong obsession with the drug" (p. 19).

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Tall octavo. Publisher's dark purple sheep over hand-made orange patterned boards, titles in black to front board.


Original woodcut frontispiece by Leni Fuhrman tipped-in, printed in white on dark purple paper.


Minor rubbing to tips, else a crisp, fine copy.


Martin Torgoff, "Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000", 2004.


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