[Marxism] Review of new William S. Burroughs bio

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jan 20 08:16:57 MST 2014


Burroughs was intellectually, creatively, and geographically restless, 
which Miles attributes to a lifelong flight from possession. Burroughs 
chalked it up as a need to purge the "acquisitive evil" of his wealthy 
family. (His grandfather invented the adding machine and amassed a 
fortune, which Burroughs had no trouble spending). After graduating from 
Harvard in 1936, he searched the globe for an identity that didn't spark 
contempt. He briefly studied medicine in Vienna, enrolled in a 
diplomatic academy in Prague, returned stateside to study psychology at 
Columbia, then took up and abandoned anthropology and Mayan archaeology 
at both Harvard and Mexico City College. He worked as a copywriter for 
an enema product ("unfortunately some 300lb woman sat down on this 
bloody thing and her guts burst open"), trained to become a pilot, tried 
to join the army, and, most notably for his later bug-infested fiction, 
was an exterminator in Chicago ("at one brief point of intersection I 
did exercise that function and witnessed the belly dance of roaches 
suffocating in yellow pyrethrum powder.") In the 1940's he bought 
acreage in Texas with the idea of being a cotton farmer. Instead, his 
harvest rotted while Joan dervished around the house high on Benzedrine 
and chattering with "speed-freak discussions about white filaments" 
erupting from her skin.

full: http://www.bookforum.com/review/12794




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