Call Me Burroughs: A Life

Call Me Burroughs: A Life

Language: English

Pages: 736

ISBN: 1455511951

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Fifty years ago, Norman Mailer asserted, "William Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius." Few since have taken such literary risks, developed such individual political or spiritual ideas, or spanned such a wide range of media. Burroughs wrote novels, memoirs, technical manuals, and poetry. He painted, made collages, took thousands of photographs, produced hundreds of hours of experimental recordings, acted in movies, and recorded more CDs than most rock bands. Burroughs was the original cult figure of the Beat Movement, and with the publication of his novel Naked Lunch, which was originally banned for obscenity, he became a guru to the 60s youth counterculture. In CALL ME BURROUGHS, biographer and Beat historian Barry Miles presents the first full-length biography of Burroughs to be published in a quarter century-and the first one to chronicle the last decade of Burroughs's life and examine his long-term cultural legacy.
Written with the full support of the Burroughs estate and drawing from countless interviews with figures like Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, and Burroughs himself, CALL ME BURROUGHS is a rigorously researched biography that finally gets to the heart of its notoriously mercurial subject.











and introduced him to Burroughs. Gallagher was an intellectual who was thrown out of the CIA when a lie detector test showed he was homosexual. However, he continued to work for many organizations that were long seen as CIA covers, including regular reports on the situation in North Africa for the American Universities Field Staff in New York. He later wrote several books on Morocco, including The United States and North Africa: Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia (1963). He was a linguist, speaking

“I don’t know why, but I just feel sorta tired after I make it with that writing feller…”7 Bill appears to have extended this theory—that boys have an abundance of orgones—and attempted to store them, at least temporarily, in his orgone accumulator. The evidence comes from Colonel Gerald Richardson, the British chief of police, who wrote, “One of them was known as Morphine Minnie. He was an educated American, a remittance man, like so many of them. It was sometimes said that he was putting up a

Bill’s assertion that he would feel no jealousy toward Peter was proved wrong, and it was not helped by Peter’s eccentric behavior, which Bill found acutely embarrassing. Peter would constantly stop strangers on the street and talk to them, drawing attention to himself and therefore to Bill and Allen. Bill hated him. “He was so nutty, he just acted like a retard. I found him extremely annoying. It was embarrassing.”30 Bill adopted a contemptuous attitude toward Peter, either teasing him and

from the soul and not from the dictionary; willingly because if it can be destroyed or bettered by the ‘cut-up’ method, then it is poetry I care not for, and so should be cut-up. […] to the muse I say: ‘Thank you for the poesy that cannot be destroyed that is in me’—for this I have learned after such a short venture in uninspired machine-poetry.”12 Sinclair Beiles took the opposite path and cut up his source texts—articles from the Observer, Life, Encounter—again and again until they had such a

dried in a few minutes. He had some interesting results using what he called Rorschach monoprints—taking impressions of an image by painting one piece of slick coated card and pressing another one against it and rotating it a little. “I try my best to make my mind a blank. […] The whole idea is that I try to let my hands go and paint whatever my so-called unconscious mind is aware of.”14 He also used watercolors, the medium he used in 1959 when he was first under the influence of Gysin. He began

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