Call Me Burroughs: A Life

Call Me Burroughs A Life Fifty years ago Norman Mailer asserted William Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius Few since have taken such literary risks developed suc

  • Title: Call Me Burroughs: A Life
  • Author: BarryMiles
  • ISBN: 9781455511938
  • Page: 117
  • Format: Paperback
  • Fifty years ago, Norman Mailer asserted, William Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius Few since have taken such literary risks, developed such individual political or spiritual ideas, or spanned such a wide range of media Burroughs wrote novels, memoirs, technical manuals, and poetry He painted, made collages,Fifty years ago, Norman Mailer asserted, William Burroughs is the only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius Few since have taken such literary risks, developed such individual political or spiritual ideas, or spanned such a wide range of media Burroughs wrote novels, memoirs, technical manuals, and poetry He painted, made collages, took thousands of photographs, produced hundreds of hours of experimental recordings, acted in movies, and recorded CDs than most rock bands Burroughs was the original cult figure of the Beat Movement, and with the publication of his novel Naked Lunch, which was originally banned for obscenity, he became a guru to the 60s youth counterculture In Call Me Burroughs, biographer and Beat historian Barry Miles presents the first full length biography of Burroughs to be published in a quarter century and the first one to chronicle the last decade of Burroughs s life and examine his long term cultural legacy Written with the full support of the Burroughs estate and drawing from countless interviews with figures like Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, and Burroughs himself, Call Me Burroughs is a rigorously researched biography that finally gets to the heart of its notoriously mercurial subject.

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    1 thought on “Call Me Burroughs: A Life”

    1. Here’s a first – I had to abandon this biography not because it’s a bad book but because I could no longer stand the person it’s about. And I have read biographies of HP Lovecraft (devout anti-Semite), Norman Mailer (megalomaniac), Paul Raymond (sleazeball), Francis Galton (inventor of eugenics) and… well, Heinrich Himmler!Burroughs is now routinely revered as the last word in outlaw authors, the very definition of what is hip, with his heroin and his homosexuality and his cutups and h [...]

    2. It feels like I’ve read too many Burroughs bios lately. I just checked the shelf, and there are a dozen and a half of them, and that wasn’t something I planned. I’m not writing a dissertation or making this my life’s work. I think it was because Road to Interzone came out and then went out of print so quickly, I now hoard books about Burroughs. I wasn’t in the mood to read another bio, especially a 600-page one, so this book sat for a minute before I got into it, but I’m glad I did.B [...]

    3. Burroughs is not everybody's cup of tea, but he had an incandescent outlaw brilliance that at its high points was unlike anything anyone else has ever done.You can see my review of his Naked Lunch here:/review/showThe premise of the biography is that there was in a sense a demonic possession in Burroughs' personality, whether you take that literally or not, and that his entire life's work can be seen as a canvas upon which he struggled with it. In his writing he deliberately tried to maintain a [...]

    4. In all likelihood, the definitive biography. Surpasses Morgan, Miles's earlier book, and with Caveney coming in a poor fourth. There's more to come but not, I think, in a single volume.

    5. This is an exhaustive, yet intimate portrayal of our most incredibly "outsider" author- sometimes associated with the Beat Generation (although Burroughs clearly did not relish the link himself), eventually a forerunner and grandfather of the Punks. As a fellow writer, and reader of many of his books, my favorite sections are about his writing "process," of which there are less details. The parts of the book in which Burroughs got into cut-ups, collages, journaling, techniques that combined othe [...]

    6. Counterculture chronicler Barry Miles’ latest biography, Call Me Burroughs: A Life, is a very thorough account of one of the most interesting writers of the 20th century, not that his writing was the most interesting, at least at first. Burroughs kind of falls into the trade, much of his first three books reworked from recollections in letters to reluctant paramour Allen Ginsberg.His best-known book, Naked Lunch, began as routines made up in an attempt to seduce Ginsberg as well as shock and e [...]

    7. It took me a while to read this, but I have savoured every word, becoming totally immersed in the life of one of the great American writers. Barry Miles has written what will surely be the definitive biography of William Burroughs, packed full of detailed information gleaned from numerous interviews, personal recollections and interpretations of Burroughs's novels. The links between his life and work are given valuable space, but this is not a literary critique of his novels, it just points towa [...]

    8. Telepathy, language, spirit/magic, desire, the beat carrying over into the 60s and on into punk I visited his home in Lawrence, Kansas and my own paths of travel overlapped his in Mexico, Central and South America. I can't really articulate my fascination with Burroughs, which dates back to at least 1972, when I stole a copy of The Wild Boys from a used book store in Denver. Or, maybe it is his complete curiosity (like that of his beloved cats) and fearlessness in exploration of consciousness

    9. Call me weary: another seven-hundred page bio on Bill. Check out the intro for a taste of the documented detail and perhaps you'll agree, this has got to be the final word (of course it won't be). Five stars for the research, but Ted Morgan "Literary Outlaw" is the more compelling writer; maybe I wasn't ready for Miles's book having read Morgan's less than a year ago. A tip of the hat to Barry Miles for tackling a massive project.poem "Big Bill Bio"beatdom/?p=3189

    10. The detailed story of the life of WSB. A fascinating read. I find that his life was more interesting than his writing. Difficult to read at points without passing judgment on his actions. As to a technicality of the book, footnotes would have been more efficient than endnotes, given the size of the book.

    11. Exhaustive biography of William S. Burroughs. Despite its length, does move along briskly. If you are interested in the Beats or the punk era, this book puts you into the middle and will reveal some interesting facets of Burroughs and his contemporaries from Kerouac through Kurt Cobain. Material on Brion Gysin is especially developed.

    12. 3,5 starsFor an introduction to Burroughs this is a quick read - despite its number of pages. For the 'real deal' do read the separate books with interviews and essays. I enjoyed The Third Mind and The Adding Machine very much so.

    13. Comincia con lo Spirito del Male e continua con l'infanzia, i gatti, gli amori, il culo di Burroughs, i soldi di Burroughs, gli amici, gli editing folli di folli dotati per Burroughs e le droghe e le droghe e le armi e le armi di Burroughs, i viaggi e i traslochi di Burroughs, le ispirazioni, le persone deformate e poi deformate in personaggi di Burroughs, della mira di Burroughs e se si ha letto o si ha una vaga idea di quanto sia stato importante William Burroughs per la letteratura contempora [...]

    14. Hugely enjoyable. Barry Miles's intimate portrait of Burroughs strips away the artsy associations and we are invited, momentarily, to peer into the human sides of El Hombre Invisible: gun toter, accidental artist, guileless boy, sensitive sweetheart, absurdly inappropriate humourist and ardent cat fan - alongside being the accidental murderer of wife Joan Vollmer and the absent dad of son William Jr. It's astonishing to see how reviled he was when he was just starting out, when you see the rever [...]

    15. Una biografia che si legge come un romanzo. Opera monumentale di Barry Miles che ripercorre la vita di uno dei più grandi scrittori americani di tutti i tempi: William "uomo invisibile" Burroughs. Stupefacente la meticolosità della ricostruzione dell'esistenza dello scrittore attraverso un'analisi approfondita della Beat Generation.

    16. Sono decisamente rare le biografie avvincenti, ma quando il personaggio protagonista è Burroughs, il racconto di una vita può diventare esso stesso un romanzo che ha dell'incredibile!Questo librone di 800 pagine non vi intimorisca perché è solo attraverso questo viaggio nella mente complessa di Burroughs e il background della sua avventurosa esistenza si può comprenderne a fondo l'opera come la sua personalità.Ho letto questa biografia in contemporanea con Pasto nudo, la sua opera più fam [...]

    17. I have just finished reading “Call Me Burroughs,” by Barry Miles, a definitive biography of William S. Burroughs. It has been a liberating experience. All my life I have admired the brilliantly creative and artistic among us. I have suffered the profound disappointment that comes with an utter lack of creative talents. I asked myself, “Why, oh why?”William S. Burroughs and substantially all of the creative talents of his era were homosexuals. Finally I can accept that my poverty of artis [...]

    18. I tried reading Naked Lunch (1962) in my mid-1970s middle teen years of eager exposure to the “countercultural” soon to be canonical and always already commercial literature, music and antics of Dylan, the Dead, Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson. I knew what it looked like to be cool, hip, beat. or did I? Who the fuck is the old dude in the suit and fedora that seems to appear in the corner of every scene; wait is that a gun? Let me read more to find out— is he “Old Bull Le [...]

    19. James Grauerholz, William S. Burroughs' literary executor, spent years collecting documents about Burroughs' life, planning to write the ultimate biography. Ultimately, though, he passed the documentation to Barry Miles to finish the project. Miles had begun a professional & personal relationship with Burroughs in the mid-'60s and had already written a few books about him when he received Grauerholz's material. So this is really an epic (700 page) effort. William S. Burroughs (William Seward [...]

    20. I don't think anyone should read Burroughs until they're 25 or maybe 30. I read him as a impressionable teen and its taken me many years to forgive him (and Lou Reed) for wanting to know the glamorous depravity, familial need and the cocoon of oblivion that he portrays as the world of heroin. In truth with the exception of his seminal work, 'Junky' reading about Burroughs the man is far more rewarding than reading Burroughs the author. This book sheds much light on the figure sometimes called Th [...]

    21. I originally purchased this book because I wanted to know more about William S. Burroughs. I had read "Junky" many years ago and was intrigued by this peek into a world I knew nothing about but nevertheless found quite fascinating. I had also read a few other biographies that touched on Burroughs, some more than others.Burroughs never considered himself to be part of the Beat writers. It was his old and dear friend Allen Ginsberg who first encouraged his writing and then wanted to include him in [...]

    22. Great book. An honest (to the best of my knowledge) portrayal of Burroughs's life and work. While not flinching from Burroughs's darkness, his ugly spirit, (which is considerable) this book reveals the many different levels of the man; levels of genius, of beauty, of humor, of depression and horror. For the most part, Berry Miles remains dispassionate and nonjudgmental yet manages to help the reader understand and relate to "El Hombre Invisible". I felt like I got to know William and missed him [...]

    23. I wanted to expand on Ted Morgan's great bio about Burroughs, "Literary Outlaw" and much preferred Morgan's book, but this was a book CD and there is no question offers a unique experience. There is no question the CD is absolutely masterful with an incredible reader putting the listener in the moment. The content of the Miles book is simply beyond the pale in that the sexual and specifically pedophile detail hit the wall for me. I loved most all of the history and the continuation into the late [...]

    24. An incredibly detailed and comprehensive look at Burroughs' life, loves and works. Like many people I suspect, I sometimes find Burroughs more interesting as a character than as a writer, but reading the details of how some of the books were written gives me a strong urge to revisit them.As with his Paul McCartney biography, Miles presents everything more or less chronologically, with certain characters, locations and situations highlighted in subsections of the relevant chapters. Although I lea [...]

    25. I completed this book months and months ago but I am terrible about updating my page. It's only when I get a notice from Ben regarding his current reading status that I remember to look at it. So, thanks Ben.I was much more interested in the man's own story than I thought I'd ever be in his prose. The beats nor Mr. Burroughs never held any interest for me. But I have always been fascinated by the little aspects of his life that I was familiar withWilliam Tell, junkie lifer, gay Morocco and his l [...]

    26. High marks for an excellent, exhaustive biography. Miles may be my favorite biographers, and he knew Bill fairly intimately. I came away with a much better since of the arc of Burroughs' full life. I think there other biogs that delve deeper into specific aspects or eras of Bill's life, places he lived, people he know, his writing and art, etc. But as a comprehensive all-in-one, this is really a great start, although it's not really a starter book. Recommended for people who think they know Burr [...]

    27. The challenge in writing a biography--or any history really--is not to let details bog down the story. I read this bio in chronological order up to the famous William Tell episode. Some parts were highly readable, but others seemed weighted down with names, places, etc (Burroughs knew a lot of people and seemed to move constantly). After Burroughs' wife died, I started skipping around in the book. Perhaps taking a cue from WSB's cut ups, I picked some episodes at random. Other times I picked sec [...]

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