Queer: A Novel

( 4 )

Overview

For more than three decades, while its writer's world fame increased, Queer remained unpublished because of its forthright depiction of homosexual longings. Set in the corrupt and spectral Mexico City of the forties, Queer is the story of William Lee, a man afflicted with both acute heroin withdrawal and romantic and sexual yearnings for an indifferent user named Eugene Allerton. The narrative is punctuated by Lee's outrageous "routines" — brilliant comic monologues that ...

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Overview

For more than three decades, while its writer's world fame increased, Queer remained unpublished because of its forthright depiction of homosexual longings. Set in the corrupt and spectral Mexico City of the forties, Queer is the story of William Lee, a man afflicted with both acute heroin withdrawal and romantic and sexual yearnings for an indifferent user named Eugene Allerton. The narrative is punctuated by Lee's outrageous "routines" — brilliant comic monologues that foreshadow Naked Lunch —yet the atmosphere is heavy with foreboding.

In his extraordinary introduction, Burroughs reflects on the shattering events in his life that lay behind this work.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In an introduction, Burroughs observes that he wrote this heretofore unpublished picaresque novel in 1951, well before Naked Lunch established his reputation. He reveals that the book had its genesis in a terrible event: his accidental shooting to death of his wife, Joan, a tragedy that released the black wellsprings of his talent. The narrative recounts the hallucinatory life of William Lee, an American in Mexico City in the 1940s and his journey to Ecuador with his reluctant lover, Eugene Allerton, in search of the drug Yage. Lee is Burroughs after the killing, weighed down by guilt, drugs, lust and despair; seeking lethe. Admirerers will find an early exposition of Burroughs's later themes here, as well as a strain of gallows humor. The work is almost cinematic as it unfolds; the author is not yet experimenting with the meaninglessness of language, and, indeed it is thin in both thought and expression. This is the first of a series of Burroughs's works to be issued by Viking. Foreign rights: Andrew Wylie Agency. November
Library Journal
Burroughs has contracted with Viking Penguin for seven books to be issued over the next five years. Queer , the first of these, was originally written in 1951, but has never before been published. Stylistically similar to Junky , it claims the same protagonist, Lee, who in this work is experiencing a period of intense withdrawal from heroin. He is disintegrated, unsure of himself and his purpose, given to emotional excess. He is obsessed with sex, yet even more craves attention. To satisfy this craving he invents rather frantic ``routines'' designed to shock and amuse his companions. While Queer may seem tame in comparison to Burroughs's later work, it is important for the insight it offers about his development as a writer. His lengthy introduction should be of particular interest to both readers and scholars. David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140083897
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1987
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 380,197
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

Biography

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 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Really Good

    I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good risky book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2003

    yes

    Not as good as Junky or Naked Lunch, but still a fairly groundbreaking novel by one of our premiere queer writers. Surreal, in your face, that's burroughs.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2002

    burroughs disappoints

    I found queer to be a dissapointment. I loved Junky, and it is one of my favorite books, but queer was a let down. It takes place after junky ends and we follow William Lee around with his fascination with Eugene Allerton and his trip to South America. But the story isn't that interesting. There is more of a plot here than there was in junky, but I found Lee's struggles with heroin much more fascinating than his obssession over the boring Allerton. queer is told from an outside narrator rather than from Lee's perspective, and as a result, the voice that helped make junky so great is missing. It just doesn't match with the standards Burroughs set when he wrote Junky. If you are a Beat scholar, then this is a book you should read (it is one of Burroughs important works) or if you study gay literature, then you should read this. If you're just looking for a good book, reread Junky. Perhaps the reason it took so long for it to get published has something to do with how bad the book it. It was a controversial topic at the time, but maybe if it had been better written, we would have seen it sooner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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