- William S. Burroughs was the writer often associated with the Beat Generation. His most famous books include Naked Lunch, Nova Express, and Junky.
- But he’s perhaps most famous for shooting and killing his wife Joan Vollmer.
- Along with close friend and collaborator Brion Gysin, Burroughs pioneered the “cut-up” method in his writings.
- The band Steely Dan is named after a dildo that appeared in Naked Lunch
- He was a huge influence on proto-punk, post-punk, alternative music and industrial music, and collaborated with Ministry, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Michael Franti, Nirvana and Tom Waits. Artists such as Patti Smith, Ian Curtis of Joy Division and Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground have cited him as an influence.
- Burroughs was also a huge influence on cyberpunk literature, through his influence on writers such as J.G. Ballard and William Gibson.
- Although the film is based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner is actually named after a novel by Burroughs. The studio bought the rights to both books.
- He was also a magician and conducted many magical experiments with Gysin and was a member of the IOT.
- Burroughs is less well known as a visual artist, but was a prolific painter in his later life.
- Call Me Burroughs: A Life is a new biography of Burroughs by Barry Miles.
- Fantagraphics has published a lost graphic novel by William S. Burroughs and Malcolm McNeil. You can order it through Amazon.
- Burroughs: the Man Within has been released. You can buy it on DVD or watch it on Netflix.
- And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, a lost novel by Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, is now available. Scholarly review here.
Where to Start?
- Reality Studio a William S. Burroughs community site. The definitive WSB resource on the web. Extensive collection of materials.
- Wikipedia entry
Shooting of Joan Vollmer
- An interview with Burroughs on magick (Date???)
- Interview in 21C magazine June 1991
- The Making of Naked Lunch interviews with David Cronenberg and William S. Burroughs on the making of the Naked Lunch film.
- Paris Review interview with William S. Burroughs from 1965
- Burroughs and Andy Warhol in conversation
- New Burroughs documentary out now Limited release. Trailer available.
- William S. Burroughs Commisioner of Sewers A documentary released in 1991
- Burroughs: The Movie documentary from 1985 (full video streaming for free)
- 2014 audio documentary featuring Iggy Pop, John Waters and more.
Works by Burroughs
Pirate Tape, a collaboration between William S. Burroughs, Derek Jarman and Psychic TV.
- Burroughs reads his first short story, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” on Saturday Night Live.
- Gus Van Sant’s film adaptation of Burroughs’ The Discipline Of Do Easy
- Burroughs interviews David Bowie in 1974
- Burroughs interviews Jimmy Page in 1975
- Naked Scientology Burroughs on Scientology
- More works by Burroughs
Writings on Burroughs
Interview with James Grauerholz on William S. Burroughs and Magick
Interview with Burroughs documentary maker Yony Leyser
The Death of Joan Vollmer Burroughs: What Really Happened? (long PDF about William and Joan’s relationship)
The Beat Goes On: Acker on Burroughs by Kathy Acker, from 21C Magazine
Wild Girls: Acker rewrites Burroughs by Kathy Acker, from 21C Magazine
David Cronenberg talks about Burroughs
Most of the links above are internal links for 2 reasons:
1. It means I’ll only have to fix deadlinks in one place
2. In case of deadlinks, the original posts usually have at least an excerpt from the original link, so you’ll at least be able to read something.
Please report deadlinks and, better yet, replacement links in the comments