Place of Dead Roads

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A good old-fashion shoot-out in the American West of the frontier days serves as the springboard for this hyperkinetic adventure in which gunslingers, led by Kim Carson, fight for galactic freedom. The Place of Dead Roads is the second novel in the trilogy with Cities of the Red Night and The Western Lands.

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The Place of Dead Roads: A Novel

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A good old-fashion shoot-out in the American West of the frontier days serves as the springboard for this hyperkinetic adventure in which gunslingers, led by Kim Carson, fight for galactic freedom. The Place of Dead Roads is the second novel in the trilogy with Cities of the Red Night and The Western Lands.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It's a comedy . . . a nightmare . . . Bosch-like visions, extraordinarily precise vivid visualizations . . . outrageous ideas like mind bombs."—Allen Ginsberg

"Powerful . . . a raging torrent of words and images . . . Burroughs, like Dalí, first draws from his insanity, then selects with reason. And what a master of the mother tongue he is—sculpted sentences, poetic prose, riffs that make you gasp in amazement . . . More accessible and murkily poetic than ever."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"One of the wildest rides into the Wild West, and other parts known and unknown, we will ever have."—The Washington Post Book World

"A moving personal saga as well as a record of revolutionary vision."—Chicago Tribune Book World

Anatole Broyard
Like ''Naked Lunch,'' which made Mr. Burroughs a celebrity in 1959, the new novel has a shuttling or stuttering structure, something like the strobe lights in a discotheque. But while ''Naked Lunch'' had flashes of humor, the only joke in ''The Place of Dead Roads'' is on us. You might say that the comedy lies in people talking Mr. Burroughs seriously as a writer....For a celebrated author to publish a novel as poor as ''The Place of Dead Roads'' requires a degree of collusion or encouragement on our part. He must have a certain confidence in our credulity, must assume that bad taste is a good bet, that age cannot wither, or customs stale the appeal of an established reputation....There's a French proverb to the effect that we deserve what we inspire. What we ought to ask ourselves is whether we want to go on inspiring books like ''The Place of Dead Roads.'' -- New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
The second-half of a one-two punch (see above) that's more likely to leave you dismayed than dizzy, this Burroughs phantasmagoria lives up to formula: beautiful homosexual wild boys take on all the evil in the world. That includes: the FDA (for rules about guns, drugs, sex, etc.); the mob; dogs (?); and the English. In 1983, when it first appeared, Kirkus thought the routine "dog-eared": "more of the usual nonsense—notched to Burroughs's own anarchic sensibility but no more convincing than the programmatic novels of Ayn Rand" and likely to appeal to the same "post-adolescent" audiences. Trying to redeem this mess, Kirkus admitted moments of lyricism (on Burroughs's native St. Louis) and clever sci-fi notions. But Burroughs's black comedy has lost its "spleen and . . . become mere eccentricity, puerility." Then as now: "only for the coterie," and may their legions diminish.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312278656
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Series: Western Lands Trilogy, #2
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 301,507
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

William S. Burroughs was born in St. Louis in 1914. He is best-known work is 1959's Naked Lunch--which became the focus of a landmark 1962 Supreme Court decision that helped eliminate literary censorship in the United States. Described by Norman Mailer as one of America's few writers genuinely "possessed by genius," he died in 1997. His many other works include Junky and Cities of the Red Night (Picador).


William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) -- guru of the Beat Generation, controversial éminence grise of the international avant-garde, dark prophet, and blackest of black humor satirists -- had a range of influence rivaled by few post-World War II writers. His many books include Naked Lunch, Queer, Exterminator!, The Cat Inside, The Western Lands, and Interzone.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2006


    When I read or hear that critics find little of interest in this particular book, I wonder if they can actually like anything by anybody other than whomever is sliding greasy money into their pockets. To say that this book has little to offer is quite wrong. Here is an example (taken from memory as I don't have the book in front of me) -We would come across a dead horse rotting in the sun... 'All right ROLL IN IT! Get the stink of death in your chaps and your hair and your skin' We used to get sick at first but we got used to it and buzzards used to follow us around hopefully... WE would RIDE into town, wind at our backs. Townsfolk retching and puking... 'Eegads, WHAT'S that SMELL?' Its the stink of DEATH citizens... Death has come to town...' Let me ask you this- what better way to show a group of 'outlaws' and their disregard for the sheepish townsfolk than that? How could you set up a scene better than that? I am sure I did Mr. Burroughs a disservice by butchering the quotes but I couldn't let this one slip by without commenting on the unique literary qualities of this book. Unfortunately I haven't read the other two in the trilogy but I am planning on remedying that oversight. Pick it up! Especially if you are 'into' beat authors. And if you get a chance to hear a recording of Burroughs reading from this or other novels, do it. It is well worth listening to.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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