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on March 1, 2007
Of all of Bill Burroughs' works, I enjoy his fictions that were closest to his life as he lived it. QUEER and JUNKY are my favorites, as they deal so honestly with the very strange world in which he moved. I realize that his cut-outs and dream-like novels are important and quite moving to many, but they just never impressed me the way his earlier books do.

THE YAGE LETTERS recounts Burroughs' trip to South America to search out the legendary drug "Yage" which he hoped would enable him to grasp something like mental telepathy. Yes, it's a mad notion and this journey is certainly equally mad, as he moves freely among primitive folk and capitalist exploiters and thieves and holy men and jungle bureaucrats and fellow travellers and drug addicts. Ultimately, the feeling that I was left with was that Yage, like so many other drugs, was nothing but poison. WB lovingly details the search for the material, the preparation of the matter, and the nausea-inducing reactions to the drug that proved only to be a mild hallucinatory.

But it isn't the Yage itself that drives this book. Rather, it's the journey. I highly recommend joining Burroughs in this prose trek.
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VINE VOICEon March 22, 2014
Both of these guys are literary giants. It's amazing to read them trading info on one of the great psychedelic experiences, wrapped in a lot of exotic travel. A lot of it hinges on their homosexuality, which was of no specific interest, but still provided good background on these two guys. An exciting and fascinating read.
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on July 12, 2008
The book that awoke Western interest in the Amazonian shamanic potion, Ayahuasca (A.K.A. Yage in Columbia).

Through his letters to Beat poet Allen Ginsburg we follow William Burroughs as he travels down from Panama towards Colombia in search of the mythical potion Yage in 1953. Burroughs writes with bile dripping in every sentence as he passes damning judgment on everybody and everything from the locals to the expats, ("I never knew a Dane that wasn't bone dull". or "The Chinese are all basically Junkies in outlook"), gets thrown in jail and languishes under town arrest in some flea bitten village while fighting Malaria - all the while trying to locate a shaman to try out Yage with.

When he does manage to finally locate a willing shaman, Burroughs' Yage accounts are curiously muted experiences - nausea, purging, some numbness convulsions and minor hallucinations. However, no real epiphanic moments or fundamental inner transformation is revealed. Ginsburg's later 1960 experiences, on the other hand, provide much more detail as to the composition, preparation and ritualistic use of Ayahuasca, and his experiences prove much more powerful and mythopoetic than Burroughs' - "I felt like a snake vomiting out the universe" His experiences are profound as he connects with the "Great being within"and describes his experience as 'The ringing sound in all the sense of everything that has ever been created". Three years later in 1963 Ginsburg sums up his Ayahuasca experiences thus: "transfiguration of self consciousness from homeless mind sensation of eternal fright to incarnate body feeling present bliss now actualised."

Despite rambling in places, it's a quick and worthwhile read, mainly of historical interest to see how two mid-twentieth century literary figures responded to Ayahuasca, inadvertently helping propel the potion to international prominence. .
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on December 5, 2014
A fascinating, mystical story about indigenous Colombians !
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on August 23, 2015
good stuff
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on May 3, 2013
This is the first western book on ayahuasca, which Burroughs calls Yage.
The reading uses 50s cliched expressions for drug and homosexual behavior, which take time to figure out (I' not sure I completely understood all of them.)
He also makes interesting observations about life at the edges of the jungle.
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on July 25, 2007
I found this to be very interesting when put into historical perspective.strange tales from both burroughs and ginsberg.I give this a high rating just because it's such an interesting read.You have many different avenues with witch to approach the many layers this has to offer. L Jordan
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on May 19, 2008
Legal, mas nem tanto. Se vc é a sua primeira leitura de Burroughs deixe esse pra depois e compre o Junky.
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