Oct 23, Tosh rated it it was amazing The closest to a short story collection by the cranky and hysterical William S. And the fact that he once had a job as rat and insect Exterminator is something like crazy. Who in their right mind would allow this guy into their home? I would give the first vignettes only about 3 stars on average but then somewhere along the line, bang! There are also early signs even here during a relatively early work of Burroughs of his latter-day environmentalism and humanism, which is celebrated in novels such as Ghost of Chance and The Cat Inside, two books, incidentally, which I read just last month and hence still fresh in my mind. I felt like saying, "ok William, we get the point".
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His was a prominent family of English ancestry in St. Louis, Missouri. His maternal uncle, Ivy Lee , was an advertising pioneer later employed as a publicist for the Rockefellers. His father ran an antique and gift shop, Cobblestone Gardens in St. Louis; and later in Palm Beach, Florida when they relocated. He attended John Burroughs School in St. Louis where his first published essay, "Personal Magnetism" — which revolved around telepathic mind-control — was printed in the John Burroughs Review in The school was a boarding school for the wealthy, "where the spindly sons of the rich could be transformed into manly specimens".
According to his own account, he destroyed these later, ashamed of their content. Some[ who? Yet, according to his own account, he left voluntarily: "During the Easter vacation of my second year I persuaded my family to let me stay in St. Louis Harvard University[ edit ] Burroughs finished high school at Taylor School in Clayton, Missouri , and in left home to pursue an arts degree at Harvard University , where he was affiliated with Adams House.
During the summers, he worked as a cub reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch , covering the police docket. He disliked the work, and refused to cover some events, like the death of a drowned child. He lost his virginity in an East St. Louis, Illinois brothel that summer with a female prostitute whom he regularly patronized. He visited lesbian dives, piano bars, and the Harlem and Greenwich Village homosexual underground with Richard Stern, a wealthy friend from Kansas City.
They would drive from Boston to New York in a reckless fashion. Once, Stern scared Burroughs so badly that he asked to be let out of the vehicle. It was enough to keep him going, and indeed it guaranteed his survival for the next twenty-five years, arriving with welcome regularity.
The allowance was a ticket to freedom; it allowed him to live where he wanted to and to forgo employment. He traveled to Europe and became involved in Austrian and Hungarian Weimar -era LGBT culture ; he picked up young men in steam baths in Vienna and moved in a circle of exiles, homosexuals, and runaways.
She made her way to New York City, and eventually divorced Burroughs, although they remained friends for many years. In , his mental health became a concern for his parents, especially after he deliberately severed the last joint of his left little finger at the knuckle to impress a man with whom he was infatuated.
But when he was classified as a 1-A Infantry, not an officer, he became dejected. After being evaluated by a family friend, who was also a neurologist at a psychiatric treatment center, Burroughs waited five months in limbo at Jefferson Barracks outside St.
Louis before being discharged. During that time he met a Chicago soldier also awaiting release, and once Burroughs was free, he moved to Chicago and held a variety of jobs, including one as an exterminator. When two of his friends from St. The two fledgling authors were unable to get it published, but the manuscript was eventually published in November by Grove Press and Penguin Books. During this time, Burroughs began using morphine and became addicted.
He eventually sold heroin in Greenwich Village to support his habit. Vollmer also became an addict, but her drug of choice was Benzedrine , an amphetamine sold over the counter at that time. Because of her addiction and social circle, her husband immediately divorced her after returning from the war.
With urging from Allen Ginsberg , and also perhaps Kerouac, Burroughs became intellectually and emotionally linked with Vollmer and by the summer of had moved in with Vollmer and her daughter. In spring , Burroughs was arrested for forging a narcotics prescription. Vollmer asked her psychiatrist, a Dr.
As part of his release, Burroughs returned to St. Upon hearing this, Burroughs immediately returned to New York City to gain her release, asking her to marry him.
Their marriage was never formalized, but she lived as his common-law wife. They returned to St. Their son, William S. Burroughs Jr. The family moved briefly to New Orleans in Vollmer and their children followed him. Burroughs also attended classes at the Mexico City College in studying Spanish, as well as "Mexican picture writing" codices and the Mayan language with R. Burroughs shot Vollmer in the head, killing her almost immediately.
Louis to live with his grandparents. Burroughs reported every Monday morning to the jail in Mexico City while his prominent Mexican attorney worked to resolve the case. According to James Grauerholz , two witnesses had agreed to testify that the gun had fired accidentally while he was checking to see if it was loaded, with ballistics experts bribed to support this story.
He was convicted in absentia of homicide and was given a two-year suspended sentence. What do you remember of us? I live with the constant threat of possession, and a constant need to escape from possession, from Control. So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a life long struggle, in which I have had no choice except to write my way out.
I mean a definite possessing entity. Ugly evil. The ugly American", and took part in a shamanic ceremony with the explicit aim of exorcising the Ugly Spirit. In any case, he had begun to write in Years later, in the documentary What Happened to Kerouac? Before Vollmer died, Burroughs had largely completed his first novel, Junkie , which was written at the urging of Allen Ginsberg , who was instrumental in getting the work published, even as a cheap mass-market paperback.
Due to legal problems, he was unable to live in the cities toward which he was most inclined. He realized that in the Moroccan culture he had found an environment that synchronized with his temperament and afforded no hindrances to pursuing his interests and indulging in his chosen activities.
He left for Tangier in November and spent the next four years there working on the fiction that would later become Naked Lunch, as well as attempting to write commercial articles about Tangier. He sent these writings to Ginsberg, his literary agent for Junkie, but none was published until when Interzone, a collection of short stories, was published. Under the strong influence of a marijuana confection known as majoun and a German-made opioid called Eukodol , Burroughs settled in to write.
Eventually, Ginsberg and Kerouac, who had traveled to Tangier in , helped Burroughs type, edit, and arrange these episodes into Naked Lunch. He began slicing up phrases and words to create new sentences. Scenes were slid together with little care for narrative. Perhaps thinking of his crazed physician, Dr. Benway, he described Naked Lunch as a book that could be cut into at any point.
Although not considered science fiction , the book does seem to forecast AIDS , liposuction , and the crack pandemic. Irving Rosenthal , student editor of Chicago Review, a quarterly journal partially subsidized by the university, promised to publish more excerpts from Naked Lunch, but he was fired from his position in after Chicago Daily News columnist Jack Mabley called the first excerpt obscene.
Rosenthal went on to publish more in his newly created literary journal Big Table No. John Ciardi did get a copy and wrote a positive review of the work, prompting a telegram from Allen Ginsberg praising the review.
Once published in the United States, Naked Lunch was prosecuted as obscene by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, followed by other states. In , the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared the work "not obscene" on the basis of criteria developed largely to defend the book.
In this sense, the cut-up method may be considered as analogous to the collage method in the visual arts. New restored editions of The Nova Trilogy or Cut-Up Trilogy , edited by Oliver Harris President of the European Beat Studies Network and published in , included notes and materials to reveal the care with which Burroughs used his methods and the complex histories of his manuscripts.
Paris and the "Beat Hotel"[ edit ] Burroughs moved into a rundown hotel in the Latin Quarter of Paris in when Naked Lunch was still looking for a publisher.
Tangier , with its political unrest, and criminals with whom he had become involved, became dangerous to Burroughs. He left behind a criminal charge which eventually caught up with him in Paris. Paul Lund, a British former career criminal and cigarette smuggler whom Burroughs met in Tangier, was arrested on suspicion of importing narcotics into France. Lund gave up Burroughs, and evidence implicated Burroughs in the importation of narcotics into France.
When the Moroccan authorities forwarded their investigation to French officials, Burroughs faced criminal charges in Paris for conspiracy to import opiates. It was during this impending case that Maurice Girodias published Naked Lunch; its appearance helped to get Burroughs a suspended sentence, since a literary career, according to Ted Morgan, is a respected profession in France.
The " Beat Hotel " was a typical European-style boarding house hotel, with common toilets on every floor, and a small place for personal cooking in the room.
Life there was documented by the photographer Harold Chapman , who lived in the attic room. This shabby, inexpensive hotel was populated by Gregory Corso , Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky for several months after Naked Lunch first appeared.
The actual process by which Naked Lunch was published was partly a function of its "cut-up" presentation to the printer. Girodias had given Burroughs only ten days to prepare the manuscript for print galleys, and Burroughs sent over the manuscript in pieces, preparing the parts in no particular order.
When it was published in this authentically random manner, Burroughs liked it better than the initial plan. Dent, a well-known English medical doctor who spearheaded a reputedly painless heroin withdrawal treatment using the drug apomorphine. Burroughs however was convinced. Following his first cure, he wrote a detailed appreciation of apomorphine and other cures, which he submitted to The British Journal of Addiction Vol.
Though he ultimately relapsed, Burroughs ended up working out of London for six years, traveling back to the United States on several occasions, including one time escorting his son to the Lexington Narcotics Farm and Prison after the younger Burroughs had been convicted of prescription fraud in Florida.
He claims he went through the most excruciating two months of opiate withdrawal while seeing his son through his trial and sentencing, traveling with Billy to Lexington, Kentucky from Miami to ensure that his son entered the hospital that he had once spent time in as a volunteer admission.
Louis, Missouri, taking a large advance from Playboy to write an article about his trip back to St. Southern and Burroughs, who had first become acquainted in London, would remain lifelong friends and collaborators.
Kijin Amazing what organizing into chapters does. Science-fantasy wars, racism, corporate capitalism, drug addiction, and various medical and psychiatric horrors all play their parts in this mosaiclike, experimental novel. Finding success with his confessional first novel, JunkieBurroughs is perhaps best known for his third novel Naked Luncha controversy-fraught work that underwent a court case under the U. Jan 10, RandomAnthony rated bureoughs liked it. Burroughs at his coruscating and hilarious best.
William S. Burroughs