Queer: A Novel

Queer: A Novel

by William S. Burroughs


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For more than three decades, while its writer's world fame increased, Queer remained unpublished because of its forthright depiction of homosexual longings.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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140083897
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/1987
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 5.05(w) x 7.71(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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.

Date of Birth:

February 4, 1914

Date of Death:

August 2, 1997

Place of Birth:

St. Louis, Missouri

Place of Death:

Lawrence, Kansas


Los Alamos Ranch School; A.B., Harvard University, 1936; graduate study, 1938

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Queer 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
buzzharper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book. Honest and written from the heart. heart.
kant1066 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has been sitting on my library shelves for a couple of years untouched. Since it was William Burroughs, and looked like a fairly quick read, I decided to pick it up. Burroughs is one of the seminal American authors of the underground gay experience, right? I thought it would be like reading Alan Hollinghurst on cocaine - something I was looking forward to.But I was highly disappointed. The novel's plot revolves around gay two heroin addicts, William Lee and Eugene Allerton. Lee's attraction to Allerton is completely and painfully unreciprocated. Despite all of Lee's attempts (which come in the form of embarrassing barside disquisitions in Mexican cantinas) to win Allerton's affections, it is all for naught. They decide to travel in search of some hallucinogenic drug which can only be obtained in the remote rainforest, and Lee promises to pay Allerton's way if he has sex with him a couple of times a week. In the end, the reader gets the impression that the quest for the drug is upset, much like Lee's wish for Allerton to love and appreciate him. The structure of the novel seems unmotivated and disinterested. It really seems to have no narrative "drive." I'm certainly not a reader that needs an action-packed novel by any stretch of the imagination, but there is nothing that compels the reader to keep reading - not even a chance of catching the two characters in licentious acts.But for anyone out there that wants to discover Burroughs for themselves, I definitely recommend this as a first step: it is immanently readable, unlike some of Burroughs' later, more experimental fiction. For this reason, it is a perfect choice for readers who have not hitherto been introduced to some of the more difficult aspects of twentieth century fiction, like non-linear narration, that symptom of dread postmodernism.
poetontheone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This sequel (of sorts) to Junky introduces a vulnerable figure in Lee, a thinly veiled Burrroughs who pines for the affections of Allerton, a bar phantom hovering on the outskirts of Lee's acquaintance circle. In parts, an unrequited love (or lust) story, a mythical drug quest, and bursts of weird monologue. In the second half of the book, when the latter two elements come to the fore, the story really gains momentum.
Djupstrom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I know I am supposed to like William S. Burroughs for his "greatness" in literature, but I just don't get him...ever. Bad book.
revD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A piercing, intensely self-analytic novelette. Again a portrait of another time, but perfectly accessible because of its emotional & intellectual honesty. Burroughs served himself well by keeping 'Queer' from publication until the mid-eighties-- complete with a new introduction, it cast an eye backward at how society, American & otherwise, was being shaped by the internal pressures of the citizens it considered its untouchables.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
edd4243 More than 1 year ago
I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good risky book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.