Re: RARA-AVIS: Junky

Date: 18 Dec 2004

miker wrote:

"One thing that surprised me is that, knowing Burroughs's ties to the beat generation, I expected a mood closer to the pseudo-intellectual air of Kerouac's ON THE ROAD or DHARMA BUMS. Not even close."

Junky owes a hell of a lot to Jack Black's You Can't Win, an autobiographical book about the underworld of hobos and criminals written just before the turn of the 20th century. Burroughs read it as an adolescent and it opened up a whole new world to him. He draws from it in other books, too, but Junky is clearly modeled after it.

"I understand that Burroughs claim to fame centers on NAKED LUNCH. I definitely want to read it some day."

Just don't expect anything like Junky. It is not at all a straight narrative -- very fractured, episodic, doesn't really have a plot, although it does keep looping back to certain narrative strains. The story goes that the box with the manuscript was dropped when Burroughs handed it to Allen Ginsburg. The two of them shoved the pages back into the box at random, and Burroughs decided to leave it that way, thus applying his cut-up strategy to the novel form. I believed the story the first time I read the book. When I read it years later, after I had a bit more familiarity with unorthodox narrative structures, I realized just how carefully it was fractured, not at all random, and got a lot more from the book. Didn't lead me to move on to the other books of his I have on my shelf, though.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 18 Dec 2004 EST