(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Julia and the Bazooka” is the story of a young girl who grows up to become a heroin addict, but who dies, not because of her addiction, but as a victim of World War II. The story is narrated in a nonsequential manner and overlaps and doubles back on itself, but even in its convoluted form, it is a simple and powerful narrative.

The story begins directly enough—“Julia is a little girl with long straight hair and big eyes”—but the chronological order is soon abandoned and past and present mix together without temporal value, and readers must piece together the chronology themselves. Rearranging the elements of the story into sequence, the narrative of Julia’s life would look roughly like this: She has never known her father, and “her personality has been damaged by no love in childhood so that she can’t make contact with people or feel at home in the world.” As a child she loves flowers, but she has “sad” eyes and does not share the “enthusiasm for living” of her classmates. “She feels cut off from people. She is afraid of the world.”

Drugs change all that. A tennis professional introduces Julia to heroin—or at least, he gives her a syringe to “improve her game”—and with her “bazooka,” as the tennis professional jokingly calls the drug apparatus, she wins a tournament and a silver cup. By the time she gets married to “a young man with kinky brown hair” (and there is no way of telling the exact...

(The entire section is 573 words.)