Call Me Burroughs: A Life

Barry Miles. Twelve, $32 (736p) ISBN 978-1-4555-1195-2
The pioneering American countercultural writer and artist William Burroughs emerges as his own greatest character in this raucous biography. Biographer and Burroughs editor Miles (Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats) pens a dense, detailed, yet wonderfully readable and entertaining narrative that illuminates, without sensationalizing, Burroughs’s manifold peculiarities: his avid sexual interest in teenaged boys; his use of hashish, hallucinogens, and heroin; his petty crimes and drug-dealing; his love of casual gunplay (he fatally shot his wife during a game of William Tell); his obsession with other-worldly phenomena, from Scientology, to UFO abductions, to his own theories of giant intergalactic insects that control everything; his hair-trigger psychodramas with intimates and complete strangers; his embrace of every experience, especially those that appalled and disgusted him; the fastidious manners and banker’s wardrobe that made his anti-social provocations seem even more subversive. Miles’s exhaustively researched account draws on the writer’s blunt, self-revealing private writings along with reminiscences from Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, and other associates to flesh out Burroughs’s personality, surroundings, and equally colorful circle of acquaintances, who were forever doing interesting things like getting mauled by lions. Miles just puts it all on paper with aplomb and deadpan wit, showing how the gross-out surrealism of Burroughs’s fiction flowed from the lurid creativity of everyday life.Agent: James Macdonald Lockhart, the Antony Harwood Agency (U.K.). (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/09/2013
Release date: 01/28/2014
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FORMATS
Paperback - 736 pages - 978-1-4555-1193-8
Open Ebook - 978-1-4555-1194-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-8178-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-8181-7
Book - 978-1-4789-8180-0
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-0-297-86725-8
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