On a relentless Los Angeles summer day, you walk barefoot over broken glass and melting tarmac to meet your connection, praying that he will extend your line of credit to one more bag of heroin. You are alone, penniless, and wracked by violent withdrawals. Last night you robbed a psychotic crack dealer named Shakespeare, and had to abandon your apartment for fear of reprisals…
Welcome to Hollywood, and welcome to Digging the Vein.
Tony O’Neill’s brutal debut is based upon his own experiences as an addict and sideman to acts as diverse as the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Kenickie and Marc Almond. Through the eyes of his anonymous narrator you will experience a side of Hollywood that few tourists will ever see: Digging the Vein is an unsentimental journey through the underbelly of L.A.’s drug subculture.
“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.” – 3am Magazine – Unsworth on O’Neill
“Reading it I could taste the LA smog. Here pain comes at you like a Mack truck – relentless and unavoidable. Don’t blink. Keep reading.” – Dan Fante, author of Corksucker, Chump Change, Mooch and Spitting Off Tall Buildings.
“A blistering account of addiction, love, hope and the downside of the American Dream…” – Dazed and Confused.
“Digging the Vein is mining diamonds for the crown of the King of Hell” – John Giorno, Giorno Poetry Systems, author of You Got To Burn To Shine.
In a previous life (born 1978 in Blackburn) Tony O'Neill played keyboards for bands and artists as diverse as Kenickie, Marc Almond and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. After moving to Los Angeles his promising career was derailed by heroin addiction, quickie marriages and crack abuse. While kicking methadone he started writing about his experiences on the periphery of the Hollywood Dream and he has been writing ever since. His autobiographical novel DIGGING THE VEIN was published in February 2006 by Contemporary Press, in the US and Canada. Wrecking Ball Press released a UK edition in Summer 2006. He lives in New York where he works a variety of odd jobs and writes.
Tony O'Neill is a founding member of the Brutalists, a literary collective including authors Adelle Stripe and Ben Myers