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Queer: A Novel Paperback


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Queer: A Novel + Junky: The Definitive Text of "Junk" + Naked Lunch
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 6, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140083898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140083897
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In an introduction, Burroughs observes that he wrote this heretofore unpublished picaresque novel in 1951, well before Naked Lunch established his reputation. He reveals that the book had its genesis in a terrible event: his accidental shooting to death of his wife, Joan, a tragedy that released the black wellsprings of his talent. The narrative recounts the hallucinatory life of William Lee, an American in Mexico City in the 1940s and his journey to Ecuador with his reluctant lover, Eugene Allerton, in search of the drug Yage. Lee is Burroughs after the killing, weighed down by guilt, drugs, lust and despair; seeking lethe. Admirerers will find an early exposition of Burroughs's later themes here, as well as a strain of gallows humor. The work is almost cinematic as it unfolds; the author is not yet experimenting with the meaninglessness of language, and, indeed it is thin in both thought and expression. This is the first of a series of Burroughs's works to be issued by Viking. Foreign rights: Andrew Wylie Agency. November
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Burroughs has contracted with Viking Penguin for seven books to be issued over the next five years. Queer , the first of these, was originally written in 1951, but has never before been published. Stylistically similar to Junky , it claims the same protagonist, Lee, who in this work is experiencing a period of intense withdrawal from heroin. He is disintegrated, unsure of himself and his purpose, given to emotional excess. He is obsessed with sex, yet even more craves attention. To satisfy this craving he invents rather frantic ``routines'' designed to shock and amuse his companions. While Queer may seem tame in comparison to Burroughs's later work, it is important for the insight it offers about his development as a writer. His lengthy introduction should be of particular interest to both readers and scholars. David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Burrough's earlier works are probably his best ones in my opinion.
Hippie Smell
Burroughs claims in the introduction that just reading the words and putting it down is very painful for him, but he did it so that he could move forward.
Clark Nova
In the end, the reader gets the impression that the quest for the drug is upset, much like Lee's wish for Allerton to love and appreciate him.
A Certain Bibliophile

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Clark Nova on January 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
A book of unreciprocated feelings, and longings amplified by withdrawel and junk sickness. This is a much more intimate and personal look into the life of William Burroughs than his other stuff. It takes place after he accidentally killed his wife, and he is sobering up and facing all of the demons and guilt previously dulled by the drugs.

This book was banned for a long time, the homosexual relationships and longings aren't grotesque exaggerations with shock value in mind like some of his other stories, they are very human and almost universal innocent boyish longings for affection.

He develops these "routines", funny stories he uses that show off his sarcasm and absurd sense of humor when he wants the attention of the room. All of the stories are hilarious and really show off his talent as a writer, but the people around him generally could care less or they just don't get it. So he is trapped always in a foreign land suspicious of everyone searching endlessly for islands of sanctuary.

Burroughs claims in the introduction that just reading the words and putting it down is very painful for him, but he did it so that he could move forward. A very intense time in the life of a brilliant and fascinating character.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 1997
Format: Paperback
A brilliant, bare book of an intense, one-way homosexual relationship, and the tale of unrequited love on any level. Burrough's describes the feeling of giving yourself and getting nothing in return beautifully. A must for the loved and lost masses. A good place to begin your Burroughs reading list as it's one of his most coherent books.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jack Malebranche on October 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
Queer is an unfinished novel set in Mexico City in the late 1940s, where "Lee" (Burrough's surrogate) is trying to "kick the Chinaman all the way out". In the introduction, Burroughs, tries to explain his emotional state:

"When the cover is removed, everything that has been held in check by junk spills out. The withdrawing addict is subject to the emotional excesses of a child or an adolescent, regardless of his actual age."

Lee bares a raw neediness that is all too human; he is a grown man in the throws of a schoolboy's infatuation. He makes a fool of himself struggling to impress an indifferent youth named Allerton, who acquiesces occasionally enough to egg Lee on. However, these moments of devil-may-care outrageousness are when Burrough's incredibly dark humor steals the book. For those of a certain bent, Queer contains several "cackle-out-loud moments" in what Burroughs calls his "routines" - free association storytelling of thoroughly perverse nature. The phrase "Corn Hole Gus' Used-Slave Lot" should convey enough, without giving away the punch lines.

It seems as though this book might be about sex, but I found it to be much more about desire. For sex, but also for reciprocity. For that reason, even those who are not "queer" may well enjoy it. Burroughs' cast of characters and scenes in the early part of the book show an underside of Mexico City that is likely long gone. And don't skip the introduction. Burroughs' stories about campesinos are almost too savagely silly to believe.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is so sad. Borroughs constant neglection and isolation is so dramatic that we probably all feel very sad about his experiences. "Queer" is a book describing a man's search for his identity and recognition in Society. Wonderful book that really needs to be read by everyone.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Unlike those Burroughs 'fanatics,' I dig Burroughs more straight, earthy work, a la Junky, Western Lands (etc.), and of course, Queer. Queer is an excellent follow up to Junky, and yes, is very easy to read, which sometimes, like this time, works for the better. Naked Lunch is fine - funny, witty, unrelenting. Cut-ups - not necesarilly for me. Give me Junky, Queer, etc.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hippie Smell on May 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Burrough's earlier works are probably his best ones in my opinion. His later stuff is too abstract and too far out to make for an enjoyable read. However, this book tells a story in a simple and straight forward manner. I highly recommend this book as a good starting point to the world of William S. Burroughs. Some of the later stuff that features the infamous cut-up technique works better on his spoken word albums because that stuff is more like poetry anyway. Also, I should mention that the forward in this book is amazing and is some of my favorite writing by Burroughs.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME on June 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
The 1985 introduction by the author is very poignant and valuable for a clear understanding of the novel. Especially the admission that it was the accidental death of his wife by his own hand that motivated and formulated his writing. Although Junky: The Definitive Text of Junk (50th Anniversary Edition) is great, Queer reveals a more human side to his work where one can actually empathize with the main character. His descriptions of Mexico City in the late 1940s and his circle of friends, many of whom were fellow American expatriates, lend a special air of magic to the writing. The flashes of humour are always unique and refreshing, eg. the amusing story of his fantasy trip to the "Upper Ubangi." A brilliant work whose many charms I intend to delve into again and again.
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