The legend of William S Burroughs lives on
Lots to read today about William S. Burroughs, who was born 100 years ago on 5 February 1914. Harvard graduate, drug fiend, genre-challenging author – his life was not dull. Very few men accidentally shoot their wife in a drunken haze. Very few authors receive this much attention long after their death.
The BBC has this tribute to the Godfather of Punk.
From his first novel, Junky, published in 1952, to his last public appearance in the video of U2’s The Last Night on Earth, weeks before he died on 2 August 1997, Burroughs was consistent: taciturn, sardonic, provocative and true to his outsider self and oddly formal sartorial style. His influence on generations of writers, musicians, and visual artists continues. In the words of Lou Reed, Burroughs “broke the door down”.
The Guardian has this centenary quiz.
1. Burroughs is famous for pioneering the cut-up technique – literally chopping and rearranging words to create new texts. Less famous is the man with whom he developed the process. Name him
William S Burroughs: occult guru; drug-soaked crank; literary genius; dystopian visionary; violent psychopath. No writer of the post-war period has been so thoroughly mythologised. He was Old Bull Lee, El Hombre Invisible and Morphine Minnie. He cut off his own finger, he shot his wife and he took every drug he could find. Skin stretched over his skull, hair side-parted, stiff-postured in his three-piece suit, his unsettling intensity hums in every photographic portrait.