Graham Reid | | <1 min read
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.
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