Item #107 in my Kerouac bookshelf curation project is this paperback 1992 (first published by Grove in 1971) Grove Press 10th printing edition of The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead by William S. Burroughs. 184 pages, it measures about 5-1/4" x 8" and is in very good condition. The provenance is likely that I acquired it via Amazon.
Regular readers of The Daily Beat need no explanation for why this is on my Kerouac bookshelf, but for newcomers, suffice to say that Burroughs was one of the core Beat Generation figures along with Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (and others such as Lucien Carr, Gregory Corso, John Clellon Holmes, Herbert Huncke, and even, I suppose, Neal Cassady -- who am I missing?). Now on to the book.
According to the back cover blurb, "The Wild Boys is a futuristic tale of global warfare in which a guerrilla gang of boys dedicated to freedom battles the organized armies of repressive police states." I tried reading it when I first got it, and gave up. Same with Naked Lunch (curated soon). The only Burroughs book I have made it through is Junky (curated next).
As the NY Times reviewer said in 1971 (click here),
Burroughs is indeed a serious man and a considerable writer. But his books are not really books, they are compositions that astonish, then pall. They are subjective experiences brought into the world for the hell of it and by the excitement of whatever happens to be present in Burroughs's consciousness when he writes.The Wild Boys appears to be classic Burroughs, full of cut-up and spontaneous prose. And my hat's off to his influence on pop culture (for example, the appearance of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust is based on descriptions in this book).
It seems that you either "get" or "like" Burroughs' writing or you don't. I wish someone would tell me the key to one or both. I fear the problem is that I am just not cool enough, something for which there is no fix.
Below is a picture of Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf showing the placement of this book (1st on the left) on the day I started curating my collection. Next up: Junky by William S. Burroughs.
|Shelf #4 of my Kerouac bookshelf|