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Queer (Unabridged)
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Queer (Unabridged) [Audio Download]

by William S. Burroughs (Author), T. Ryder Smith (Narrator), Andrew Garman (Narrator)
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 4 hours and 43 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Recorded Books
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 20 Jun 2013
  • Language: English
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Product Description

For more than three decades, while its writer's world fame increased, Queer remained unpublished because of its forthright depiction of homosexual longings. Set in the corrupt and spectral Mexico City of the '40s, Queer is the story of William Lee, a man afflicted with both acute heroin withdrawal and romantic and sexual yearnings for an indifferent user named Eugene Allerton. The narrative is punctuated by Lee's outrageous "routines" - brilliant comic monologues that foreshadow Naked Lunch - yet the atmosphere is heavy with foreboding.

©2010 The William S. Burroughs Trust, 2010 Oliver Harris (introduction); (P)2013 Recorded Books

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Firsthand Account of Withdrawal 17 April 2013
By s k
William Burroughs was a hero of the literary counterculture. With a penchant for madcap experimentation (i.e. the hit-and-miss cut-ups), and a mischievous iconoclasm, Burroughs redefined the modern novel. But those looking for the hallucinatory and paranoid shenanigans of Naked Lunch will be disappointed by Queer. As a straightforward realist love story, it should be read as a companion piece to Junky, Burroughs's first novel. Yet whereas Junky was a firsthand account of addiction, Queer is a firsthand account of withdrawal. Still, despite the seedy milieu of 1940s Mexico City, it is a moving tale, and a raw depiction of unrequited love.

Of primary importance, however, is Burroughs's 'Introduction to the 1985 Edition', a preface in which he recounts the moment that led to him becoming a writer: 'the accidental shooting death' of his wife, Joan Vollmer, in September 1951. This shocking event, so prominent in the Burroughs mythology, 'motivated and formulated' his writing; it also brought him into contact with the 'invader, the Ugly Spirit' that possessed him when he shot his spouse. From that moment onwards, his existence was driven by 'a constant need to escape from possession, from Control'. Was he really possessed, or is this simply a schizoid escape from responsibility?

The story of Queer is simple: William Lee is looking for love. Trawling the dives of Mexico City, he picks the young Eugene Allerton, and so begins an amorous tussle between innocence and experience. Allerton, though, is a rather disinterested receiver of Lee's advances. Worried about his lover's involvement in the City's noisome revels, Lee whisks Allerton down to South America in search of Yage, a mystical drug that increases 'telepathic sensitivity'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Queer 15 Oct 2013
At its heart, William Burroughs' Queer is a tale about the desperation and despair of unrequited love. It begins where Junky left off, with Burroughs' literary alter ego William Lee skulking around Mexico City in the company of American ex-pats, barflies and dilettante students. Having drastically cut back on the junk, Lee is no longer insulated from his true feelings and becomes obsessed with sex and relationships, eventually fixating his suffocating attention on a young American named Eugene Allerton. Lee pursues Allerton through the bars and backwaters of Mexico City, attempting to enrapture him with a serious of booze-fuelled, increasingly manic sermons on life and truth. Allerton ultimately gives in to Lee's pursuit and becomes his lover but, without the security provided by a mind clouded by junk, Lee cannot ignore the disinterest and even contempt that Allerton actually feels for him. In a bid to fight off the reality of the situation, Lee takes his reluctant lover to Ecuador on a pilgrimage in search of the legendary hallucinogenic drug Yage.

In his introduction to the 25th anniversary edition, Oliver Harris provides a neat overview of Burroughs oeuvre and of Queer's place within it. He remarks that, since there are no "straight" books in William Burroughs' oeuvre - any one of them might be called Queer - his second novel is perversely typical and fulfils the meaning of the title as noun (homosexual - used pejoratively or with pride), adjective (peculiar, false, dubious) and verb (to thwart, unnerve, unsettle). Queer is certainly at times a perplexing novel, no doubt due in no small part to its being the most obviously personal of all Burroughs' works.
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4.0 out of 5 stars William Burroughs - Queer | Review 31 Aug 2013
Despite the negative connotations of the title, Queer is by no means homophobic - if anything, it's a celebration of Burroughs' sexuality. It's effectively an extension of Junkie, another of Burroughs' celebrated dystopian novels, written in the third person instead of in the first.

I actually enjoyed Queer more than the majority of Burroughs' other work, and it's certainly better than Naked Lunch in my opinion - it's a good work to start with, and it's slightly more lucid than a good deal of his most celebrated literature. If this is the first Burroughs book that you ever read, you won't be scared away by his incoherence.
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5.0 out of 5 stars an enjoyable read 19 Jan 2013
My first book of this author and a very interesting one. It is well written and easy to read. Full of observations of human nature, engaging, and intelligent.
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read. 16 Jan 2011
By G. Rees
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Queer was a follow up to Junky and the prose style is similar making it an easy read. I should say I was disturbed on far too many occasions by my young children whilst trying to read it but it concerns his period in Mexico to where he departed in something of a hurry after his personal "story" detailed in Junky. Be warned, the story is short - more of a novelette, and I found the ending a bit abrupt and unresolved at the same time. I should give it another read when the children stop emptying milk (if I'm lucky) on it and otherwise abusing it
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