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Drugstore Cowboy Paperback – October 1, 1990

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4 Stars and Up Feature: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." --Library Journal Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fogle's story of four marauding drug addicts who travel through the Pacific Northwest looting narcotics from drugstore pharmacies was the basis for the movie of the same name. Drawing on his own experience, the author, who has spent 35 of his 53 years in prison, has taken a decidedly downbeat topic--drug addiction--and transformed it into a wry, often satirical commentary on the potential for anarchy and aimlessness in the lives of American youth. Bob Hughes is the ringleader of the group, planning elaborate schemes to distract checkout clerks and pharmacists from the treasured--and locked--narcotics drawers behind the prescription counter. In one such incident, Bob has his "old lady" Diane set fire to a section of merchandise while his partner Rick sets off smoke bombs, with Rick's girlfriend Nadine screaming "Fire!" at the top of her lungs. Fogle's description of the thieves' drug use is realistic yet restrained. The dialogue tends to be hokey, with characters venturing into various ungrammatical speech patterns, and there is annoying sermonizing about rotten police, corrupt politicians and virtuous dope fiends. But overall this is an extremely likable, fast-paced, humorously wrought tale of losers living on the edge.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; 1st edition (October 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038530224X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385302241
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #636,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alexis Hidell on September 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
How many times have you seen a film and then read the book on which the film is based and said to yourself, "God, that film was awful - the book is so much better!"? Rare are the cases where book and film compliment each other and live in harmony. Drugstore Cowboy is one of those rare cases. If you like the film, you will love this book. The lovable junkies, hilarious adventures, and poignant mishaps of Bad Bobby Hughes and cohorts are further fleshed out and even more entertaining in print.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on August 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
Drugstore cowboy is a novel about a crew of traveling junkies. the bands leader is Bob Hughes "one of the cleverest, ringiest, most notorious dope fiend drugstore cowboys on the entire West Coast, including Alska." It is an incredibly real examination of a dope fiends domain. Some how you can't help but fall in love with the charecters. They are portrayed acuratly without being betrayed or praised. James Fogle really knows what he's talking about.

You may have noticed that this is a kids review and may be wondering why it is here seeing how this is certainly not a kids book. I am 12 years old and live in the city so,as you can imagine, i have had some run ins with dope. Drugstore Cowboy had an impact on my life, for better or for worse i can not say, but i am glad i read it because there is nothing more honest out there.

i would recomend this novel to everyone at some point in their lives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By WilloWill on June 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For years I resisted reading this book for the same reason I still haven't made it to New York: I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the cinematic version. To say I love the Gus Van Sant film is an understatement. It may be the only note-perfect film I have ever seen. Is anything so witty, funny, cool, beautiful and tragic as that movie? I bought a giant movie poster of it in Camden or somewhere back when I was young, lost, and hopelessly poor in London. I carried that poster from hovel to hovel, my only piece of beauty most of the time. I never saw the book back in those days, and when amazon.com came along I kept the novel on my Wish List for years. Why bother reading the book when the film was already perfect?

Finally I bit the bullet and bought it. First I read the back cover and was dismayed to read that the author, James Fogle, has spent most of his life in prison. I did a quick google search and was more dismayed to read he had been arrested again in his old age for robbing drugstores. Why was I dismayed? I don't know. When I was younger that probably would have made me hapy: at least it was real. But it was the same heartbreaking feeling I got after I read Leaving Las Vegas and found out that the author really had killed himself young. I'm now at the age where tragedy dismays me instead of fuelling some kind of misguided romanticism.

Still, with books like that, everything is authentic.

Happily for me, there are few differences between the book and the film. Almost the whole plot is the same and a good deal of the dialogue is lifted straight from these pages. Old Gus knows a great thing when he reads it.

This is a great book. The film does it justice. Best bought together. I only wish I had bought the movie soundtrack while it was still available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By holly rucker on November 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hands down my favorite book of all time. Bob really grows on you and the twist of events at the end had me crying for an hour. I recommended this to all my friends and they loved it! The book's also inspired me to pursue a career in neuropharmacology!
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By Kathleen Mittge on August 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Entertaining fictionalized account of the real deal: The Drugstore Cowboy. Active at robbing drugstores primarily in the Pacific North West for many years, James Fogle weaves an interesting account of his exploits. After a life of crime with his sketchy co-horts, he works at getting clean only to be killed by his young nemesis.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dash Manchette VINE VOICE on September 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No one can accuse James Fogle of not having done his research. The man spent the majority of his adult life behind bars for apparently the exact type of lifestyle that he presents in DRUGSTORE COWBOY. I guess he took the lesson of writing what you know to heart.

Despite my lukewarm rating, which I base on an objective reading of the book, DRUGSTORE COWBOY is actually an enjoyable read. The cowboy himself, Bob, has probably ripped off more pharmacies than anyone else on the West Coast. We follow Bob, his lady Diane, and his compatriots Rick and Nadine on a few such romps. The situations they get themselves into, or more appropriately, that Bob gets them into, are often quite amusing and I laughed several times throughout. The book is easy reading and even a slow reader will be able to get through it in a few days.

What Fogle has in authenticity, however, is offset by the writing itself, which often feels contrived. This is particularly acute with respect to dialogue, which unfortunately often goes beyond contrived into flat-out cliched and even corny. The free-wheeling style of writing is usually not my thing but is probably appropriate for a novel such as this.

I am a bit surprised that the book DRUGSTORE COWBOY (as opposed to the movie) was never more popular. It has that Jack Kerouac feel to it that would seem to straddle the line between popular novel and cult classic. It may not be highbrow, but it is fast and fun.
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