William S. Burroughs was a writer unlike any other. His unconventional style and controversial subject matter have made him a figure of fascination and fear. However, beyond the surface level, Burroughs was a man who delved into the darkest parts of his psyche to explore the human condition. In this blog post, we will explore the life, works, and legacy of this hauntingly intriguing author.
William S. Burroughs was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1914. His aristocratic background, mixed with an interest in the seedier parts of life, formed the basis of his writing. Burroughs’ most famous works, Naked Lunch and Junky were both considered controversial when they were first published. They didn’t adhere to traditional narrative structure or morality and instead explored drug use, homosexuality, and other taboo topics. Burroughs’ unique writing style influenced other authors such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and became a defining factor in the Beat movement.
Burroughs’ life was just as unconventional as his writing. He struggled with drug addiction for much of his life and became involved in the occult. He accidentally killed his wife, Joan Vollmer, in a drunken game of William Tell, an event that haunted him for the rest of his life. Despite these struggles, Burroughs continued to write and produce works that challenged societal norms. His later works, such as Cities of the Red Night and The Place of Dead Roads, explored more mystical themes and allowed Burroughs to dive deeper into his own psyche.
Burroughs was also known for his artistic collaborations. He worked with artists such as Brion Gysin and Laurie Anderson to produce multimedia performances that combined art, music, and writing. He also appeared in films such as Drugstore Cowboy and Gus Van Sant’s adaptation of his novel, Naked Lunch.
Today, Burroughs’ legacy lives on through his writing and influence on other artists. His unflinching exploration of the darker parts of humanity continues to captivate readers and push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable in the literary world. His influence can be seen in works such as Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club and films like Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.
For William S. Burroughs, writing was about more than just telling a story. It was about exploring the deepest, most unsettling parts of the human experience. His impact on literature and culture cannot be overstated, as he continues to inspire writers, musicians, and artists today. Despite his struggles and controversies, Burroughs’ work remains a testament to the power of the written word.