Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThe trilogy that began with Cities of the Red Night (1981) and continued with The Place of Dead Roads (1983) is completed here, and the result is a divine comedy. Although this final volume is a significant work on its own merits, one must wade through the chaotic and at times unintelligible Cities and the more coherent though by no means easy Place to fully understand why The Western Lands is a remarkable achievement. While the plot resists encapsulation, in general terms it concerns the search for eternal rest that is symbolized by the Western Lands of Egyptian mythology. Among those involved in the quest are many characters from the earlier books in the trilogy, as well as a few from Naked Lunch; not the least of them is Burroughs himself. While Burroughs's ability to create and describe vast, hellish landscapes has never been denied, often there has been no character with whom the reader can empathize. Here, however, an empathetic bond is established in passages describing the fear of death, where Burroughs speaks more directly than usual, sometimes in the guise of old, forgotten novelist William Seward Hall, sometimes forthrightly and freely in his authorial voice. As a result, Burroughs fans will find this narrative vivid, horrifying, beautiful and sad. (December)
Library JournalThis novel concludes the trilogy begun in Cities of the Red Night ( LJ 11/15/80) and The Place of the Dead Roads ( LJ 2/1/84). The title refers to the place in ancient Egyptian mythology where souls journeyed in search of immortality. Characters from Burroughs's earlier works reappear; the dreamlike prosestylistically a mixture of straight-forward and surrealistic narrative, with sparse use of the cut-up method Burroughs developed with the late Brion Gysinabounds with images of violent homosexuality, man-eating insects, and rancid decay as Burroughs explores such themes as addiction, mortality, the survival of the species, and the quest for eternal life. Essential for all serious literature collections. William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY
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Western Lands based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
This book marks the culmination of one mans quest for truth, as well as a place for himself, in a world that had always treated him as an outsider. In his short story 'Priest they Called Him' Burroughs creates the character of an old junkie who has transformed himself into an underworld sage. This character obviously is closely related to another Burroughs character: Hassan I Sabbah, the Old Man of the mountain. Far from being simply a character HIS was also a real person whom Burroughs was obviously fascinated with and whom he used to develope much of his own personal philosophy. In the Western Lands these two characters fuse into one along with a little bit of Kim Carsons thrown in to demonstrate Burroughs as the fully matured mystic that he always strived to be. Burroughs is, of course, not an orthodox cleric but this is what makes him so attractive to those of us who feel spiritually awakened but do not feel satisfied with the religions of the day. Summarily, The Western Lands' true message is that the road to spiritual fullfilment is a long, hard, solitary path that only a few can fully navigate and attain whatever one feels is the ultimate goal, immortality maybe. Lastly, this road is not one to be gained by submitting oneself to the so-called slave religions like Christianity and islam because these paths only lead to psychic vampirism and the second and final death.