Saturday, January 11, 2014

"The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs In Mexico" by Jorge Garcia-Robles

University of Minnesota Press ISBN: 9780816680634

It's odd but I never read a bad book on William S. Burroughs. As a writer I think he's great, as a human being, I don't know. He's a fascinating personality that's for sure, but it seems to me that he's a natural nightmare for the National Rifle Association. I can sort of understand someone who is involved with gun culture, but I can't put my head around someone who loves guns even after shooting his wife by mistake. That, would make me give up firearms, but alas, Burroughs kept his interest in firearms for the rest of his life. That part of him I don't like. 

"The Stray Bullet" is a fascinating book written by a Mexican journalist Jorge Garcia-Robles that covers Burroughs stay in Mexico. In detail it goes into the shooting of Burroughs' wife Joan and what happened before and after that tragedy. Her death has always been kept at as a distance with respect to Burroughs writings and commentary. Although he said that was the moment that he became a writer, but it struck me that he never came to accept her death by his own foolish behavior. In that sense not a very nice man. Seeing the two photographs of Joan's body in this book is shocking. Because this is the first time I have been confronted with her death in a graphic manner, and it does leaves one with a bad taste for the Burroughs image. 

It is also interesting that he had no interest whatsoever in Mexico as a culture, either in its history or popular arts. Him and Joan basically just fed their addictions... and that's basically it. In many ways Burroughs world is a very solitude and protected landscape. He risked danger but always by choice. On the surface he's a total noir type of personality, but his weakness is all over the place. "The Stray Bullet" is a sad book, but its interesting that it is written in the point-of-view of a Mexican who appreciates the art of Burroughs, but also quite frank about a man with a lot of faults.



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