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Call Me Burroughs: A Life Hardcover – January 28, 2014
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"CALL ME BURROUGHS is riddled with... weird anecdotes laced with gallows humor, bizarre coincidences and profane punch lines. It's a massive undertaking made complicated by Burroughs' peripatetic lifestyle and rampant drug use. To say he was a difficult man to pin down is understatement, but Miles is up to the task."―LA Times
"Miles just puts it all on paper with aplomb and deadpan wit, showing how the gross-out surrealism of Burroughs's fiction flowed from the lurid creativity of everyday life."―Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
"One long, strange, profoundly American literary life. Burroughs's work has had a profound if often oblique influence on the writing of his century and this one. I can scarcely imagine what it would be like to read Barry Miles's biography without being thoroughly familiar with the outline of the narrative. Truly, stranger than fiction."―William Gibson
"CALL ME BURROUGHS takes us deeply inside the magical life of the great writer. Miles's decision to tell the epic story through William Burroughs's search for his 'Ugly Spirit' makes for sensational reading. Brilliant, tragic, controversial, and inspiring, CALL ME BURROUGHS is a beautiful work."―Victor Bockris, author of With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker, Conversations with William Burroughs and Andy Warhol, and Burroughs in the Bunker
"CALL ME BURROUGHS is the most intimate portrait to date of one of the twentieth century's most complicated, troubled, and influential figures. Miles's deep knowledge of the man and the work also provides a cultural history of the scene in Tangiers in the 1950s, the Beat era, and the emerging Punk scene in New York in the 1980s. It is a compelling biography and social history unlike any other."―Ira Silverberg, co-editor of Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader
"CALL ME BURROUGHS is full of energy and surprise and is a delight to read. Barry Miles combines his intimate knowledge of Burroughs with the meticulous research of Burroughs's companion James Grauerholz, to produce an extremely accurate, readable, and entertaining biography of one of the most inventive writers of the twentieth century. Reading this extraordinary book is like hanging around with Burroughs himself and is impossible to forget."―Bill Morgan, author of I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg and The Typewriter Is Holy
"By any standard Burroughs's was an unusual life, full of scandal, subversion, and sensitivity hidden behind a cold blue gaze. Miles enriches this 'life of an artist' with decades of dedicated immersion in the work both published and unpublished, digging deep into archival material and manuscripts, incorporating journals of friends and acquaintances. With great authority and verve, he brings up to date the legacy of a true American original who grows, even years after his death, in fascination."―Regina Weinreich, author of Kerouac's Spontaneous Poetics and editor of Kerouac's Book of Haikus
Top Customer Reviews
But if you hadn’t known who he was before you met him, you never would’ve believed that the life recounted in CALL ME BURROUGHS by Barry Miles had been lived by this unassuming old man in the immeasurably old-fashioned suit, carrying a cane to steady his aging self. He earned that unsteadiness in adventures beyond those most of us will ever experience in our lifetimes. And Miles catches it all for you in his big, beautiful black and white tome.
There’s NAKED LUNCH. There’s the Beat poets. There’s Africa and Mexico and the time at Harvard. The end years in Lawrence, Kansas. The Cronenberg movie made from his most famous novel. There are the cut-ups and Joan and the arrow and relationships with Lucien Carr, Kerouac and Brion Gysin. CALL ME BURROUGHS gives such a blow-to-blow account of the many guises of Burroughs --- the writer, the provocateur, the gay icon, the poster boy of the Beats, the heir to the fortune that never was, the father of the writer, the inspiration of Lou Reed, Patti Smith and Kurt Cobain --- that you would expect the book to weigh 400 pounds and have its own zip code.Read more ›
Unlike some biographies of writers, this book does not go into literary criticism of each work. The books are somewhat of a minor part of the work and the focus is more on how they were created, why and the mechanics of getting them published, etc. than on the literary merits. I found this refreshing.
This book made me feel both disgusted by and sorry for Burroughs, a tortured soul who never found the love he sought but was a selfish person who only took from his parents and didn't give, ignored his son and stepdaughter, and continually hooked up with loser criminal boyfriends who no one else could stand. Supposedly dedicating his life to overthrowing control systems, at the same time he repeatedly gave up control of his own mind to drug addiction. Supposedly a rebel, he was supported on an allowance by his bourgeois parents until age 50. I got really bothered by the use of 12-year-old male prostitutes and almost gave up the book at one point because it was getting hard to take, but kept reading to learn more about Burroughs' later life in New York and Lawrence, KS and did find those sections of particular interest.
I was also interested in how Burroughs' best work typically came about in collaboration with others, and learned a lot I didn't know about his involvement in painting and other visual arts. While the subject of the book may be a sad and pathetic individual, the book is a great accomplishment of scholarship.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Burroughs emerges from the pages of this monster biography as a figure towering high above the Beat generation and casting shadows across everything from the Hippie culture of the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Stephen Donachie
Call Me Burroughs is a very extensive, detailed, and well told biography of a writer who was at once one of the most eccentric and one of the most key literary figures of the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jon Corelis
Riveting from the very beginning, with astonishing stories and vignettes, one after the other. Vivid descriptions of people, places, and events, all buoyed by quotes from the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by rickathens
The first 300 or so pages are interesting as it chronicles the same material found in the highly readable Junky and Queer. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mary- Jude Neal
Not for everyone, but if you are a scholar of contemporary American culture, mandatory reading. An important key to understanding the American avant garde. Read morePublished 14 months ago by James Shirley
Maybe if you're into reading a long (thick book, small print) biography of self-serving person you'd like this... Read morePublished 14 months ago by H.M. Long Loves Amazon