Reports from the Bibliographic Bunker
Jed Birmingham on William S. Burroughs Collecting
Issue 30 of Floating Bear (November 1964) contains a text by Gilbert Sorrentino which gives his impressions of the prose writers of the day. Here are a transcription of his comments on William Burroughs and a scan of his entire article.
Sorrentino on Burroughs
Burroughs: Clue here is that he is not a writer, he merely writes. Doesn’t care about the overall pattern, if he enjoys writing it, in it goes, Naked Lunch the most dazzling prose of this decade (and last), but not great writing. Thinking shallow and amoral, magnificent construction of comic characters, greatest “funny names” since Rabelais. Style is reminiscent of Nashe, though not consistent, I mean, he can bore the hell out of you. Power is often misdirected, because his greatest hatred, his full venom falls usually into scenes in which the characters are not people. Irritates because he has the arrogance of the addict, viz, “you poor dopes”. Best things in Lunch are Clem and Jody, episode about Bradley the Buyer, the fantasy land near the and of book. If he could cut out and edit, in terms of the work, and not what he likes, he’d be a good writer. Latest “cutup” method merely amusing, old stuff from the transition days, a bore and a fake. In the current Futurism show in town, we find the same sort of thing done as collage, ca. 1915. It didn’t work then, either.