William S. Burroughs: The Mummy Piece (1981)

 |   |  <1 min read

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.

Share It

Your Comments

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.

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Chris Farlowe: I Just Don't Know What To With Myself (1967?)

Chris Farlowe: I Just Don't Know What To With Myself (1967?)

The British r'n'b singer Chris Farlowe enjoyed a number of hits in the Sixties -- notably his cover of the Stones' Out of Time -- and this Hal David-Burt Bacharach song is much better known in... > Read more

Margo and the Marvettes: When Love Slips Away (1967)

Margo and the Marvettes: When Love Slips Away (1967)

This great soulful song was cowritten by Jerry Ross (with Scott English and Victor Milrose) and had been a modest chart success in the US for Dee Dee Warwick, Dionne's younger sister. It was... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

The Undertones: The Undertones (1979, reissue 2009)

The Undertones: The Undertones (1979, reissue 2009)

It's a measure of how obsessed rock music is with the present tense that in 1979 Paul Morley in the NME would proclaim, "The Undertones have created the greatest pop of this age and thus every... > Read more

Roger McGuinn: The Byrd who can't fly from his past

Roger McGuinn: The Byrd who can't fly from his past

The backstage meet'n'greet is usually an uncomfortable if not dire affair. Record company types, tour managers, promoter's flunkies and various levels of B-grade guests -- such a myself -- mill... > Read more