William Burroughs – Creative Reading – continues – 5


William S Burroughs at the Bunker, New York City, 1985. Photo: Allen Ginsberg

continues from yesterday

Student: Are you familiar with a story called An Outpost of Progress?

WSB Er…..

Student: It’s a (Joseph) Conrad short-story. And the last half of the movie (version).It’s straight Conrad – two totally paranoid traders, in the heart of the Congo, have a real Gothic Western shoot-out, They think that they’re leading each other on, (but…)

WSB: No, I haven’t, I haven’t read it yet.

Student:  (You really have to…)

WSB: Yeah, but there’s some.. there’s some very … He (Conrad) is… I don’t think he’s ever been appreciated as a humorist, but some of this is very funny, very funny indeed.

Have any of you ever read any Denton Welch?…That’s.. He’s out of print. I think there are some of his books in the library here…


Denton Welch, Self Portrait 1943

Yeah – but he is..I think, an extremely good writer. I’m trying go get him back in print. Some of the books on this llist have just recently come back into print, like The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles put out by Ecco Press and that’s…I think it was out-of-print when I made the list last year and it;s now back in print. And also Jane Bowles‘ complete works have been reissued by Ecco Press under the title My Sister’s Hand In Mine. I”ll have somehing to say about her. She is a very funny writer.. How many of you have read any Jane Bowles? – I’ll be talking about Jane Bowles next time and also Denton Welch.


Jane Bowles (1917-1973)

Well any further discussions or questions? Anybody? Then, also, if anybody has any, any books to add to this (list).. See, I, originally thought of it as sort of “Neglected Books”, but it got beyond that, so some of them are neglected, and some of them aren’t. Some of them are quite easy to find and are in print, and others aren’t in print and hard to find. (and that’s particularly the class of books that I’m interested in adding to the list – but if any of you have any suggestions on books to be added to this, I’d like to hear them). You notice, I don’t have many… yes?..what’s that?

Student: The Slave..

WSB:  What?

Student: The Slave by Isaac Singer

WSB: I don’t know it. What’s it about?…

Student: (Jacob, a slave, who witnesses things)

WSB: By all means, put it  down – I don’t have many science-fiction books on here because that seems to me a very difficult genre. There are very few science-fiction books I think that convince you that it could ever have happened, could have happened anywhere. And you can’t…. And another extremely difficult genre is ghost stories. There are just very very few that convince. I know I’ve got down here “A Short Trip Home” by (Scott) Fitzgerald, and that seems to get left out of most of the anthologies, and it’s one of the.. I think one of the best ghost stories in the English language. I think it was the only ghost story that he wrote -ever. How many of you have read that story, “A Short Trip Home”? – Not many of you – It’s hard to find, but..(worth finding).    It seems to get omitted. I don’t know why.

Student: What about detective stories?

WSB: Huh?

Student: What about detective stories, like Raymond Chandler?


Raymond Chandler (1888-1959)

WSB: Well, of course, Raymond Chandler, yeah..yeah, well, Raymond Chandler certainly could be on the list. Of course, he was essentially dealing in mythology. It had nothing to do with reality. He wasn’t.. well, he was really..very much in the same line as Dashiell Hammett, mythological – a mythological detective story. Yeah, I should have some detective stories on the list, although I’ve never been.. I’ve never liked sort of Agatha Christie you know, the (S.S.) Van Dine? , the straight whodunit

Student: The Master and Margarita

WSB: Pardon?

Student:  The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

WSB: What’s the name of it? What is it? some novel? 

Student; Yeah it’s a novel – (a Russian novel..)

WSB: Well, frankly, if you have any books that you think should go on this list, write them, write them down, and pass them along to me.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-nine minutes in and continuing until approximately seventy-six minutes in]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *