William S. Burroughs: The Mummy Piece (1981)

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William S. Burroughs: The Mummy Piece (1981)

Even if you know nothing about William Seward Burroughs (1914-97), when he read from his novels a chill might run down your spine. His slewed, acidic, vitriolic and downright nasty style added an extra dimension of menace to his disturbing visions where heroin, politics, mythology, guns, the CIA and cheap detective stories were cut up and shuffled, and then spat out.

He is best known for his novels The Naked Lunch and Junkie, although the hallucinatory trilogy Cities of the Red Night, The Place of Dead Roads and The Western Lands where he mixed autobiography, conspiracy, his famous Dr Benway character and Egyptian mythology are certainly worth investigating.

It was his last great work and it ends with a paragraph which opens, "The old writer couldn't write anymore because he had reached the end of his words, the end of what can be done with words" and closes with a character entering (possibly from the Land of the Dead) saying, "Hurry up, please. It's time."

This reading is taken from the album Life is a Killer on Giorno Poetry Systems Records and also included pieces by Amiri Baraka, Brion Gysin, Rose Lesniak, Jayne Cortez, Jim Carroll . . . and Ned Sublette (with Arthur Russell on drums) performing Cowboys are Frequently Secretly

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

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mark robinson - Jul 19, 2011

I rented Naked Lunch recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd watched it as a 20 year old when I first delved into the whole "Beat Generation" thing. I remember watching the movie as a younger man and not really getting it. But this time I got it completely. I think with Burroughs novels, poems, writing you really do have to understand the man and his history and the people around him to get his stuff.

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