William S. Burroughs Links
Quality Links Selected by Hand!
Updated 6 July 2007
Sites with Burroughs Texts
An official version of “Apocalypse,” a collaboration between Burroughs and Keith Haring, can be found at haring.com. Also online is another collaboration called “The Valley.”
“How can a self-portrait depict statuesque calm in the face of the horrors that surround us all?”
Brief letter from Burroughs to the New York Review of Books debating several points of a review of Place of Dead Roads.
S Press Media created this Burroughs “microsite” to complement the “Call Me Burroughs” exhibition. It features a biography, texts, bibliography, links, etc.
All the classic routines and a good selection of biographical information about Burroughs at Lucas Pickford’s Interzone Tribute page.
Excellent site (in French) featuring texts, news, bibliography, discography, filmography, and a fascinating section of quotes organized according to subject matter.
Interviews with Burroughs
RealAudio snippets of a 1963 interview conducted with Burroughs by the BBC.
“[A] writer can profit from things that may be just unpleasant or boring to someone else because he uses those things subsequently as material for writing. And I would say that the experience I had with heroin as described in Junkie later led to my subsequent books like Naked Lunch, so I don’t regret it.”
RealAudio stream of a Burroughs interview conducted by Don Swaim for Wired for Books.
Dr. John C. Kramer interviewed Burroughs in 1981 for the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs… “A writer can profit by something that someone else may not be able to profit from at all. Yet they were very disagreeable experiences. Very boring experiences…”
Excerpt of an interview with Burroughs published by RE/Search… “S. Clay Wilson asks an unbelievably gauche question: ‘Bill, when you stared at your foot all that time when you were strung out in Morocco or wherever it was — did you have your shoe on or off?’ WSB answers with matter-of-fact politeness: ‘Oh, no, I left my shoe on. I’d rather look at my foot with the shoe on than off…’”
Victor Bockris published a book of interviews with Burroughs called With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker. This 1990 interview was done after the book… “Like most people I live in a continual state of panic. Most people do if they have any sense. Maybe they think they’re not, but they are. We’re virtually threatened every second. This is a very unfunny decade, a very grim decade. Grim and nasty.”
Burroughs’ last interview before moving back to America in 1974… “PM: What are your methods of writing at present? WB: Methods? I don’t know. I just sit down and write!”
Archive.org has an incredible collection of Burroughs audio provided by the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics of Naropa University. It includes Burroughs lecturing on writing, “creative reading,” technology, ethics, etc. Highly recommended.
Ubu.com has an incredible archive of vanguard audio, including a page of unparalleled Burroughs recordings.
Burroughs Memoirs & Biography
This is a long scholarly essay by Burroughs’ longtime amanuensis James Grauerholz, in which he reveals the latest research on the accidental murder of the author’s wife. Purportedly this is an excerpt from an official biography eventually to be published by Grauerholz. A must read!
An interview with J.G. Ballard about his first meeting with Burroughs in London in 1960… “I knew that this man was the most important writer in the English language to have appeared since the Second World War, and that’s an opinion I haven’t changed since…”
Interview with Cabell McLean, a former student, assistant, and lover of Burroughs. “William in person is something entirely different from his image. You can’t always say that about everyone, but it was certainly true of Bill. He simply amazed me, and I found myself almost speechless (…a most unusual state for me, I can assure you!). I had the overwhelming impression of ancient wisdom.”
Memoir of some memorable visits with Burroughs in Kansas… “It all started when I was James Grauerholz’s teacher in 1970… ‘SHOOT THE BITCH AND WRITE A BOOK! THAT’S WHAT I DID,’ William Burroughs suddenly shouted, standing up fast. ‘Did he just say what I think?’ I quietly asked Dan and James…”
First-person account by Justin Hall of a trip to bang on Burroughs’ front door in Lawrence, Kansas… “on the fridge is a mini magnet book cover of junkie…”
Dave Moore, editor of Neil Cassady’s Collected Letters, 1944-1967, has begun a site featuring covers of books by Burroughs and Kerouac. This is an amazing archive. For example, there are currently covers for 29 different editions of Naked Lunch. And that’s just for starters! There are numerous obscure works, covers for foreign language editions, etc., etc.
Jed Birminham’s site features the incredible collection of a man whose mantra is focus, focus, focus. Jed’s Burroughs collection is the thing you wish you had in your bibliophilic wet dream. His site features covers of many obscure works — where else can you find an illustrated Fuck You Press archive? — as well as articles about Burroughs collecting, various editions, small presses, and so forth.
BeatBooks.com currently has a wonderful catalogue of rare Burroughs items. The print edition features full-color reproductions of many obscure works, including the title page from a Naked Lunch manuscript, and the online store also features many illustrations of rare and wonderful books — and these you can even buy!
Preface to the February 2002 Penguin edition of Junky by noted British novelist Will Self… “The history of this text in a strange way acts as an allegory of the way the heroin subculture Burroughs depicted has mutated, spread, and engrafted itself with the corpus of the wider society… Today junk is everywhere, on housing estates and in penthouses; sniffed, smoked and shot up by models and model makers alike. Heroin chic has been and gone as a stylistic affectation — and will doubtless return again.”
Aside from James Grauerholz, executor of the Burroughs Estate, Oliver Harris may well be the most eminent living scholar of William Burroughs and his works. Harris is the editor of The Letters of William S. Burroughs, 1945-1959, and Junky: The Definitive Text of “Junk” 50th Anniversary Edition. He is also the author of William Burroughs and the Secret of Fascination and numerous scholarly articles. On his site you can find links to all his books and electronic copies of some of his articles.
The New York Times has an incredible archive of articles and reviews about Burroughs that have appeared in the “paper of record” over the years. There are even online versions of the original reviews of Naked Lunch, which the paper criticized for “the glaringly gaudy way Mr. Burroughs has chosen to present his case — using shocking words by the shovelful and concentrating on perverted degeneracy to a flagrant degree.”
Review of new DVD of Burroughs’ 1960s vanguard films… “Experiments with the new technology of home recording followed, with Gysin, Burroughs and electronics genius Ian Sommerville pioneering the world’s earliest examples of sampling and tape manipulation…” Order the film from ScreenEdge.com.
Review of Last Words by writer Paul A. Green… “This is no ordinary senior citizen. “‘I am an unabashed cultural icon.’”
An online “memorial” to which visitors are free to contribute. However, it has barely been updated since 1999.
Miscellaneous Burroughs Links
There used to be a Burroughs site called BigTable.com. It hasn’t been in existence since about 2000, but archive.org has a cache of it that includes one of its most unique and useful features — a computer-generated concordance or word index to Naked Lunch.
A site featuring the graphics that artist Malcolm McNeill originally made (in collaboration with Burroughs) for Ah Puch Is Here.
The library at UCLA contains an outstanding collection of Burroughs and Beat material in its Kurtzman Collection of Beat Literature. There is an online index that consists of (among other things) a Burroughs bibliography and a statement by Allan Kurtzman, who assembled the collection.
Apparently there was once going to be an “official” Burroughs site, produced while the author was still alive. It was going to be made by a young man with grand designs for building a network of sites that began with Burroughs and Jean-Luc Godard and was to be called Intra-Xanadorum Valgus Machinus. Apparently it never got off the ground — ixvm.com is now just a placeholder site, and even the link on archive.org that points to the Burroughs portion redirects to porn.
Permuted.org is an interesting site featuring works on process philosophy and books produced by the Temple Press, including the William Burroughs Birthday Book, which was published to coincide with a conference held in the UK in honor of Burroughs’ 80th birthday.
Want to write like the Burroughs of the cut-up era? This is an excellent site featuring links to all sorts of cut-up machines, collage-creating programs, text generators, writing experiments, etc. Fascinating stuff.