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Queer (Picador Books)


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Burroughs has contracted with Viking Penguin for seven books to be issued over the next five years. Queer , the first of these, was originally written in 1951, but has never before been published. Stylistically similar to Junky , it claims the same protagonist, Lee, who in this work is experiencing a period of intense withdrawal from heroin. He is disintegrated, unsure of himself and his purpose, given to emotional excess. He is obsessed with sex, yet even more craves attention. To satisfy this craving he invents rather frantic ``routines'' designed to shock and amuse his companions. While Queer may seem tame in comparison to Burroughs's later work, it is important for the insight it offers about his development as a writer. His lengthy introduction should be of particular interest to both readers and scholars. David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.

In an introduction, Burroughs observes that he wrote this heretofore unpublished picaresque novel in 1951, well before Naked Lunch established his reputation. He reveals that the book had its genesis in a terrible event: his accidental shooting to death of his wife, Joan, a tragedy that released the black wellsprings of his talent. The narrative recounts the hallucinatory life of William Lee, an American in Mexico City in the 1940s and his journey to Ecuador with his reluctant lover, Eugene Allerton, in search of the drug Yage. Lee is Burroughs after the killing, weighed down by guilt, drugs, lust and despair; seeking lethe. Admirerers will find an early exposition of Burroughs's later themes here, as well as a strain of gallows humor. The work is almost cinematic as it unfolds; the author is not yet experimenting with the meaninglessness of language, and, indeed it is thin in both thought and expression. This is the first of a series of Burroughs's works to be issued by Viking. Foreign rights: Andrew Wylie Agency. November

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