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Unsworth on O’Neill


As mentioned elsewhere

Digging The Vein by Tony O’Neill (Wrecking Ball Press, £9.95)

From Hull’s fearless Wrecking Ball Press comes a new author, who, despite his tender years, has rendered a noir to stand up there with labelmates Dan Fante and Charles Bukowski. This is Tony O’Neill’s memoir of his passage from rising indie music star to raging junkie, shooting up in his groin in an LA parking lot, having blown out every other vein in his body. All long before he was 25, an age at which he had boasted he would kill himself if he wasn’t famous. He may have already exhausted the patience of Marc Almond, Kenickie and even the infamously unstable Brian Jonestown Massacre but he never tests that of his readers. For what separates O’Neill from more fashionable junkie peers is a reservoir of self-awareness and not an ounce of self-pity. The same vicious wit and painful understanding that sustains him against the torrent of chemical abuse never deserts him, not even when he is running from psychotic crack dealers or having an abscess cut from his suppurating arm. His evocation of the haunted landscapes of Los Angeles, that eternal rock’n’roll whore, resounds with the gnarled grace of a vintage Tom Waits adage: This stuff will probably kill you – let’s do another line.

First posted: Monday, August 6th, 2007.

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