Drugstore Cowboy

Drugstore Cowboy

Book - 1990
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The novel that inspired the major motion picture directed by Gus Van Sant

Bob Hughes, the offbeat, edgy, and slightly skewed leader of a crew of traveling junkies, describes himself as "one of the cleverest and ringiest and most notorious dope fiend drugstore cowboys on the entire West Coast, including Alaska." Bob, his wife, Diane, Rick, and Nadine have a penchant for robbing drugstores and grabbing pills and capsules to support their habit and relieve their boredom.

It's an all-too-real examination of the addict's domain: the euphoria, the paranoia, the busts, the overdoses, the haunting reality of trying to survive your own world. But James Fogle--who based this extraordinary novel on his own experiences, and who spent thirty-five years of his life in prison--has turned their lives into something darkly comic.

Set in Portland, Oregon, in the early 1970s, Drugstore Cowboy is a resonating evocation of life at the bottom, and yet, by portraying his characters without judgment or glamor, Fogle has illuminated them. His debut novel is a singular work of contemporary fiction.
Publisher: New York : Dell Pub., c1990
ISBN: 9780385302241
Branch Call Number: FIC/Fogle 92cn 01
Characteristics: 214 p


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Dec 05, 2014

"Hell, I never promised you no rose garden. Whoever told you being a dope fiend was the easy life? Hell, it's goddamn hard work, that's what it is."
For me, Gus Van Sant's "Drugstore Cowboy" is the greatest Portland movie, one that captures an earlier, grittier town before single-origin coffee, the Pearl, and indie rock made our city so livable. I'd long been aware that it was based on a book, but have only now read it. It was unpublished when the film was released in 1989 and came out a year later with a movie tie-in cover. Written by James Fogle, it will be very familiar to those who've seen the film, although I'd argue the film is actually better because the actors make their seedy characters (it's still Matt Dillon's best role) if not likable, at least sympathetic. Fogle based it largely on his own experiences as a junkie and a thief. He died in prison.

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