Paul Sempschi wrote:
I'm not sure if Bill ever relied on pulp mags for publication. I guess he used them as a vehicle for his Cut Ups, but for the most part, he never did pay his dues writing short fiction for the small mags.
In many ways, I think he suffered as a novelist for this. In all his books, the potential's there, they could've could've been universally reknowned rather than uneven collections; incredible bursts of insight and beauty. While writing Queer, he seemed to have lacked follow-through with traditional narrative structure. Everything that came after can be seen as arguments against framing his thoughts and prose into something which could have been very popular.
This lack of structure needlessly alienates his audience. And if you put aside his WORD/VIRUS philosophy and get down to it, The Novia trilogy reads like an outline for the best sci-fi novel of the 60's. And to think all he needed to do was WRITE it.
If Burroughs wrote straight narrative and adhered to traditional, plot and character-driven forms of storytelling, I doubt he would have made much of an impact. There were/are many authors filling that conventional niche and doing it better than he ever could.
Burroughs is remembered mostly because he broke away from traditional forms - free association/collage in Naked Lunch
, the cut-ups of course, and his other experimental fiction.
To me at least, his attempts at straight narrative fall flat, i.e. the short stories in Exterminator
never seem to go anywhere, and I always found Burroughs' attempt at writing plot-driven adventure stories in the Red Night trilogy to be one of his weaker efforts. He just wasn't that kind of writer.