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Queer Burroughs Paperback – 8 Aug 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (8 Aug. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312239238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312239237
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 226,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Jamie Russell is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His work has appeared in the Sunday Times, the Guardian, Wired, Total Film, EDGE, and many others.

Jamie writes screenplays with his friend and co-conspirator, the very talented Mr. Nev Pierce. They have several feature scripts and a graphic novel in development.

Jamie's books include Generation Xbox: How Videogames Invaded Hollywood ("fascinatingly detailed and revealing" reckoned the Guardian) and the bestselling Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema ("the definitive history of the living dead" according to director John Landis).

Jamie has a Ph.D. in English Literature but he only calls himself Dr Russell when talking to bank managers. He lives in Shropshire with his wife and two daughters, who are fed up with "those silly zombies" and want him to write a book about princesses instead.

Product Description

Review

'...Convincing and compelling...accessible and understandable to any educated general reader. The prose is engaging, supple, fluid, readable, and clear. I think the moment for this book is here right now; it illuminates the paradox of perhaps the most out and queer writer in American culture being somehow excluded from most queer canons. Russell's theory explains more of Burroughs than anything else I have read. A well-written, thoroughgoing, excellent piece of scholarship which breaks new ground by relating Burroughs to queer theory...' - Bill Savage, Northwestern University
'...informative and discriminating book...' - Choice

About the Author

JAMIE RUSSELL is a lecturer in English and a freelance journalist. He lives in London.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 April 2002
Format: Paperback
Starting with the question "why is Burroughs never considered as a gay writer", this book takesus all the way through Burroughs'novels from Junkie onwards. With detailed looks at the history and culture of America in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and beyond Jamie Russel writes one of the most illuminating books on Burroughs - it's not to be missed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
He Raises Some Good Points 24 Sept. 2008
By David L. Teeuwen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Russell's book is a helpful addition to Burroughs scholarship, but it takes as its premise an idea that is somewhat spurious to begin with: that Burroughs's homosexuality has been largely ignored in investigations of his work.

Perhaps this is true in the sense that most critics do not spend an enormous amount of time on the subject. However, the reason most critics probably don't spend a lot of time on the subject is because Burroughs didn't either. His sexuality was an integrated part of his work, not an objectified other, as Russell would like to suggest.

I found Russell's evaluation to be bordering on revisionist history, making Burroughs out to be someone contemplating and promoting his homosexuality in the same way present-day gay activists do, instead of ignoring his feelings and drowning himself in substance abuse. Perhaps he should have begun his evaluation of Burroughs work with his 1970's novels when homosexuality comes to the forefront as a main theme in Burroughs's work, instead of in Junky, Queer and Naked Lunch where it is a side show to other struggles.

As well, and very surprisingly in a book attempting to address his sexuality, Russell makes very little of the reality that Burroughs was in a heterosexual relationship for a number of years and fathered a child, while acting as step-father to another. Obviously, he was nothing like what a responsible father of his day would have been, and it didn't stop him from having homosexual affairs on the side, but, this is the very point. He wasn't exclusively homosexual any more than he was heterosexual. He was somewhere in between, it seems, depending on when you asked him. The world of identity politics was just beginning while Burroughs began to write. Even though Russell points this very fact out, the polemical sexual status he creates seems almost absent from the world of Burroughs.

Remember, Burroughs did not even publish a book until he was 39. It wasn't until half of his life was over that he adopted an exclusively homosexual lifestyle. And, as his letters show, he sometimes went back and forth in his feelings on his sexuality, up until the 1960's. Russell paints this as Burroughs being the victim of an outside influence (hostile governments of the 1950's, though Burroughs was absent from North America/England in the 1950's) rather than a person struggling to define himself.

The other issue I have with this book is that it does what many critics of Naked Lunch have done: it attempts to impose a narrative on the book that fits their view. Just as there are many versions of what a literal reading of a religious text may say, the 'real' narrative of Naked Lunch is revealed by whichever author is writing about it. Russell cannot be criticizes too harshly for this, as he is only following in the footsteps of most critics before him.

Ultimately, what Russell does well is bring to light many of the issues around Burroughs and sexuality and encapsulate them in a single book. However, Russell's book suffers from the identity politics of the 1990's and lacks substance because of this, and his book comes across more militant than disinterested. This would have been a much better book had Russell not given in to the temptation to try and cover anything before the 1970's.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing 31 Mar. 2004
By Tom "Crane" Bradley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Though it's good to see that at last someone has written a book on Burroughs from a queer perspective, the author has such a limited and rigid idea of what counts as queer criticism that the book ultimately ignores most of what is interesting in Burroughs's fiction. The chapter on Naked Lunch, for example, focuses entirely on some rather questionable ideas about how to historicize the queer identity available in the 1950s, and thus ends up ignoring everything that is funny or satirical in a novel that is essentially comic and satirical (as well as being savage and caustic). The result is that every novel is viewed from a partial perspective that makes the book seem entirely thesis-driven, to the point that it simply ignores whatever is not grist for the author's mill.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Finally!! 28 July 2001
By "mugwumpboy2000" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's amazing that it's taken this many years for someone to actually consider about Burroughs as a gay writer. All those Wild Boys are finally talked about as gay heroes in this excellent book. Jamie Russell made me return to the novels with new eyes. Of course Naked Lunch is about power and sex, of course the Wild Boys want to create a world without women. . . This book is a must-read for all Burroughs fans. Absolutely fantastic!!
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