Wednesday, 10 August, 2022

Turn The Page: last words: final journals of william s. burroughs

burroughs book cover It’s interesting, but from the title of the book and from the foreword by James Grauerholz I was led to expect something that was perhaps going to be more of an intimate, traditional style diary. As Burroughs states at one point in the book he does not want to be pigeonholed and it seems a pointless pursuit to ever try to do so. To assume anything with Burroughs is to let yourself run off down the wrong path. In the same way that Burroughs has always taken his life and folded it into his fiction so that the figure of himself blurs and shimmers like a heat-haze mirage, he does so right up to the last moment in this book. Of course there are tender moments when his friends and his cats pass away, but there are always moments of tenderness in Burroughs. Likewise there is always comedy and there is always that satirical sheen, expression of the horror of the modern world. As he does in his earliest more linear works, and carries to fruition in his cut-up novels, he circles around an idea, constantly reframing it, folding in new information, changing the way you look at it. I recently read The Cat Inside and I would posit that that was the more tender and human side of Burroughs laid bare in a way that this book, even constituting his last words, is not. That does not detract from this book in the slightest — this book is full of an energy that many younger writers lack. To think that this was produced by someone approaching the moment where they are, as Grant Morrison (a big Burroughs fan) might say, about to be absorbed into the supercontext, is amazing. Burroughs always did defy expectations.

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