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The Yage Letters Paperback – January 1, 2001
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About the Author
William Burroughs (1915-1997) is widely reconized as one of the most innovative writers of the twentieth century. His books include: Junky, Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine, and Cities of the Red Night.
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Unfortunately for me, the majority of the letters discuss the adventures getting to and finding Yage, as opposed to the experience itself.
That said, the letters are entertaining and insightful into both men's life.
Incidentally, this search took place directly after Burroughs had fled from Mexico after the accidental death of his wife at his own hand. Although there are many jewels to be found in this small book for the dedicated fan of Burroughs' work, they are spread throughout with many tedious, repetitious and confusing entries. Ginsburg's contribution, which I hoped would lend a voice of explanation to the letters, is instead a spasmolytic account of his own experience on the same drug, seemingly penned when still under the influence of it.
All in all, an interesting account of one of America's most important author's experiences traveling through Latin and South America in the early 50's--a time of great upheaval and fervor in that region. Highly recommended for Burroughs fanatics and seems to prefigure his work Cities of the Red Night. However, for those not yet familar with his revolutionary writing style I recommend Cities of the Red Night, and Junky.
Written 7 years later, there are a few letters from Ginsberg, questioning his experience with Yage and asking for Burrough's advise. He had a deeper and scarier experience than LSD and was afraid of entering deeper and deeper into the realm he was heading. And wrote some good poetic thoughts in his confusion. Apparently all went well with a later 1963 letter showing strength again and experiential confidence.
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bURROUGHS WAS A TRUE GENIUS