The Lost Years of William S. Burroughs: Beats in South Texas

The Lost Years of William S. Burroughs: Beats in South Texas

by Robert Earl Johnson Jr.
     
 

ISBN-10: 1585445479

ISBN-13: 9781585445479

Pub. Date: 07/17/2006

Publisher: Texas A&M University Press


The sometimes raunchy, often legally dubious New York and Mexican exploits of William S. Burroughs, one of the godfathers of the "Beat" generation, are well known. Less familiar are his experiences in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where for several years he was a cotton farmer (while avoiding the law in New York). This intriguing chapter in…  See more details below

Overview


The sometimes raunchy, often legally dubious New York and Mexican exploits of William S. Burroughs, one of the godfathers of the "Beat" generation, are well known. Less familiar are his experiences in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where for several years he was a cotton farmer (while avoiding the law in New York). This intriguing chapter in the famous author's life is thoroughly recounted for the first time in Rob Johnson's new book.
 
From 1946 to 1949 Bill Burroughs prepared himself for the writing of his first books by, among other pursuits, raising marijuana and opium poppies and entertaining Beat visitors such as Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady at his farm in New Waverly, Texas. Less known, though, are stories about his other farm, a "serious" fifty-acre spread, in the Valley near Edinburg, described in the 1977 edition of Junky. Here he raised legal crops such as cotton, carrots, and peas. Other Beat writers move casually in and out of the narrative, which includes the "William Tell" episode in Mexico in which Burroughs fatally shot his wife, who had placed a drink glass on her head as a target.
 
As a setting in Burroughs's work, the Valley is central in Junky (1953), "Tiger in the Valley" (an unpublished 1955 short story), and, to a less extent, Queer (1985). But the Valley recurs as a setting in almost all of his books, in some form or another.
 
Rob Johnson conducted over forty hours of interviews with people in South Texas and Mexico who knew Burroughs, his business partner Kells Elvins, and other "South Texas Beats." Johnson paints a picture of a fascinating place, time, and people: South Texas and Northern Mexico in the post-World War II period and the Anglos, Mexican Americans, and Mexicans who lived there.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585445479
Publisher:
Texas A&M University Press
Publication date:
07/17/2006
Series:
Tarleton State University Southwestern Studies in the Humanities Series, #21
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
200
Sales rank:
1,395,816
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

"The beatest state in the Union" : William S. Burroughs in Texas7
The South Texas Beats23
Tiger in the valley38
The wetback deal56
Willy El Puto82
The Texas oilman routine93
The wrath of God and the liberal imagination100
The wild West118
On the road in South Texas135
Asustado : the death of Joan Burroughs148
Atrophied afterword158

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