Ian Sansom

All Beat Up

William S Burroughs: A Life

By

Weidenfeld & Nicholson 736pp £30 order from our bookshop

Taking Shots: The Photography of William S Burroughs

By

Prestel 160pp £29.99 order from our bookshop

‘I think that William Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius’ – Norman Mailer. ‘Burroughs is the greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift’ – Jack Kerouac. ‘Burroughs has, principally, two claims on the attention of serious readers: as a moralist, and as an innovator. On both counts, it seems to me, he cannot be considered as more than a minor, eccentric figure’ – David Lodge.

You may or may not have an opinion about the work of William Burroughs. Personally, I have always found the vast procession of uncoordinated accounts of sex, violence and squalor, and the endless violations of sense and meaning, and the absurd sub-philosophy, and the self-obsession, and the lack of humour, to be – well – utterly tedious, like somehow getting caught up in another man’s nightmares.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Lecture on war and peace in 19th-century Europe by Professor Sir Richard Evans, Thurs 25 Oct, 6.30pm Europe House… ,
    • 'Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all p… ,
    • . here on books, Muriel Spark and life's tangled dance ,
    • RT : There aren't enough aggressive subtitles these days: ,
    • Churchill's on the cover of the October edition of the magazine. Piers Brendon reviews two new books about the Brit… ,
    • 'Readers have no more power to predict where the next story is going to take them than the prisoners had to determi… ,
    • 'Ho was no Soviet or Chinese puppet. He was a nationalist first and foremost. Had the Americans just realised this.… ,