Thursday, February 06, 2014

Blogging from the Bookshop: On Barry Miles's Call Me Burroughs

"Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage"
 -William S. Burroughs

Is that Peter Weller? Nah, it's good ole' Bill Burrahs grabbin' some much-deserved r&r after having exploded the depths of human consciousness. 

Call Me Burroughs: A Life, by Barry Miles. Twelve, 2014. 736 pages; 35$. With this 700+ page bio, Barry Miles looks to have written the definitive account of the life and times of famous denizen of Interzone and Beat legend William Burroughs. Undertaken with full permission from the writer's estate and the first bio to describe in detail the last decade of Burroughs's storied life, Call Me Burroughs "takes a panoramic view of the twentieth century" that follows Burroughs from his roots as a conservative Midwestern youth in the 20's and 30's to his formative sexual encounters with the Harvard gay scene, his galvanizing role in the Beat movement at Columbia, his rampant creativity and unhinged bohemianism at The Beat Hotel in Paris, his exotic travels in Mexico, Peru, and Tangier, and his vital role in many of the major artistic movements of the latter part of the 20th century including the Punk scene. Burroughs's exciting, shocking and often stranger-than-fiction life in many ways embodies the fruition and bizarre metamorphosis of counterculture in the 20th Century. Released on the centenary of the author of Naked Lunch's birth, and told through the lens of Burroughs's uncompromising quest for his "Ugly Spirit" through a heady combination of drugs, sexual misadventure, and transgressive literary technique, Miles's comprehensive biography of a true American original is sure to please even the most rabid fans of Beat literature and experimental fiction.

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