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Queer: 25th Anniversary Edition (Penguin Modern Classics) by [Burroughs, William S]
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Queer: 25th Anniversary Edition (Penguin Modern Classics) Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Description

Review

Queer is a stunner. A neglected work that became legendary in its very absence. (Los Angeles Times)

About the Author

William S. Burroughs was born on February 5, 1914 in St Louis. In work and in life Burroughs expressed a constant subversion of the morality, politics and economics of modern America. To escape these, and in particular his treatment as a homosexual and a drug-user, Burroughs left the US in 1950, and soon after began writing. By the time of his death he was widely recognised as one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the twentieth century. His numerous books include Naked Lunch, Junky, Queer, Nova Express, Interzone, and The Wild Boys. After living in Mexico City, Tangier, Paris, and London, Burroughs finally returned to America in 1974. He died in 1997.

Oliver Harris edited The Letters of William S. Burroughs, 1945-1959 and Penguin's fiftieth anniversary
edition of Junky.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 459 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 25th Anniversary ed edition (27 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008R96MPS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #141,459 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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