My first encounter with Burroughs was in the drawling, high-pitched lectures of Tom the Priest in Drugstore Cowboy. Of course, now I know Burroughs better, I figure he was playing himself. Not Tom, then: Bill. Bill the Priest. El Hombre Invisible. A modern day Buffalo Bill with words for bullets, playing out his last stand forever on the sun-baked, hard-packed desert of postmodern expression.
I saw Naked Lunch the movie before I read the book. God I love that movie, it’s one hell of a trip. I didn’t dig the book though, total DNF on the first try. Then I went to MMU as a mature student in my early twenties as a single mum of one, and I sort of collided with Burroughs headlong, ended up tangled together like I was trying be the same damn person.
I read everything I could find of his. Watched documentaries. Inhaled him like a drug. Decided that what I wanted to write had a name, and that it was BeatPunk — filthy and edgy, downright mean and ugly, but too beautiful to ignore. Pretentious much? For sure. But I still remember how it felt chasing that buzz. The right selection of words. Incredible. And I still write that way.
Still live by Gysin’s word mantra.
I fell in love with the Beats through Burroughs. Came to Hunck, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Carr, Gysin, and then Kesey and Cassady, and through them Wolfe. Helter-skelter falling down a slippery slope of sleaze and booze-drenched prose, middle class men hugging the gutter and hankering for authenticity. I don’t quite believe it, I don’t think they quite believed it themselves, but I love the hell out of it all.
And whatever they say about Kerouac, Burroughs is the Godfather. Bill’s words, his vision, the cinematic sprawl you can’t help but read in that high-pitch-drone laconic drawl of his once you have it in your head: that shit is addictive and mind-bending. Morphine for the soul. A cold cure for the word virus. Undeniable, and undeniably Bill.
Ren Warom’s Escapology was published yesterday by Titan Books. Here’s the synopsis:
Shock Pao is not just any Haunt — he’s the best. There isn’t a system that he can’t crack into, no virtual lock he can’t pick, nothing he can’t steal for the right price. Outside virtual world the Slip, though, he’s a Fail — no degree, no job, no affiliations to protect him from angry ex-customers. Of which he has quite a few. So when his ex brings Shock a job which could help him escape his miserable existence, he accepts, little realizing that it will turn out to be his most impossible, illegal and incredible assignment yet.
Amiga works for Twist Calhoun, one of the toughest crime lords in the Gung, as a Cleaner — assassin. Trapped in a world of kill-or-be-killed, she wants out. But when Shock’s war comes to her, she doesn’t have a choice: it’s her job to bring him to Twist, dead or alive — or it’ll be her head in a bag in Twist’s vault.