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The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico Paperback – October 1, 2013

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mexican novelist, critic, and translator García-Roble's account of Burroughs's time in Mexico from 1949 to 1952, which included the accidental shooting of his common-law wife Joan Vollmer, proves absorbing, but ultimately unsatisfying. García-Robles first introduces Burroughs's relationships to fellow Beats Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Vollmer, among others, before attempting, with varying degrees of success, to differentiate Burroughs's Mexican experience from the Mexican experience of other authors. The book is less about the "stray bullet," and more about how the shooting of Vollmer influenced Burroughs's writing. Depending on the reader, the majority of the book may prove unpleasant because of its depiction of Vollmer, with her death painted as something she wanted, without giving her much of a voice in a voice-filled text. Burroughs fans may enjoy this look at his experience in Mexico (first published in Mexico in 1995), but others will be troubled by the portrayal of Vollmer's death as a fated part of Burroughs's evolution as a writer. 7 b&w photos.

Review


I liked Mexico City from the first day of my visit there. In 1949, it was a cheap place to live, with a large foreign colony, fabulous whorehouses and restaurants, cockfights and bullfights, and every conceivable diversion.

—from William S. Burroughs, Queer

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816680639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816680634
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Denise TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
The Stray Bullet was first published in Mexico in 1995, where it won the Malcolm Lowry Essay Award; it's now been deftly translated by Daniel C. Schechter into English and contains a new preface. So, when I received an advance e-book version, for the purposes of feedback, I was glad to at long last be able to read this work in English.

In 1990, Jorge García-Robles, professor of literature, traveled from Mexico to meet and interview William S. Burroughs in Lawrence, Kansas. Much of the information presented in The Stray Bullet was gleaned from Garcia-Robles' interviews with Burroughs and those who knew him in Mexico City; extensive research on the Beats' lives in Mexico filled in the blanks.

Burroughs contributed a written portrait of his Mexican lawyer, Bernabé Jurado for this book, and also supplied previously-unpublished letters written by him while living in Mexico.

García-Robles begins by painting Burroughs' history in broad strokes. The genesis of what would later be dubbed the Beat Generation is clearly explained, introducing us to the various players and untangling their often labyrinthine relationships.

The author deftly takes the reader through Burroughs' life leading up to his exile in Mexico, an attempt to avoid jail time in the United States. It was an exile which which would be life-changing, ending with his his wife's accidental death in a tragic game of "William Tell." It's an event which is described here in detail, along with its aftermath.

It was also in Mexico City that Burroughs began his novel Junky, which kicked off his writing career.
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If you are a Burroughs completist, then by all means purchase this book. Much like every book on Burroughs (minus Algebra of Need) there is very little information that hasn't already been covered in Barry Miles and Ted Morgan's biographies of Burroughs. A couple photos I've never seen before and Jorge Garcia-Robles' endless criticisms of Burroughs not being interested in Mexican culture are the only new things I came away with.
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If you've previously followed Burroughs closely it's kind of a been there/done that book. 1) Burroughs lives in Mexico to evade the law and score drugs easily with limited interference 2) Shoots his wife accidentally (yes, I believe it was an accident and not some telepathic communication to do so with Joan or a plot for some kind of freedom on his end) 3) Becomes a super depth narrator of his genius all encompassing mind creating wondrous works in which this book isn't close nor intended to compare with. It's a bit of a fluff piece, airline reader. Pictures are cool though.
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