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December 23, 1990|Charles Solomon.

DRUGSTORE COWBOY by James Fogle (Delta: $9.95) . James Fogle, who's spent 35 of his 53 years behind bars, brings an insider's knowledge to this novel about a quartet of punks who raid drugstores for narcotics. A detached, unsparing portrait of addiction, much of "Drugstore Cowboy" reads like the prose equivalent of a docudrama. Like Cocteau, who insisted he merely documented his opium dependency, Fogle treats his characters impartially, both the losers out for kicks and the social workers whose efforts to redeem the addicts are frustrated by overwork and bureaucracy. Although "Drugstore Cowboy" was written a decade ago, Fogle couldn't find a publisher until film maker Gus Van Sant became interested in the story.

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