Selfish Revelations

It’s worth reading Will Self’s introduction to William Burrough’s Junky, as taken from the recent Penguin Classic edition.

“Burroughs’s own conception of himself was essentially fictional, and it’s not superfluous to observe that before he began to write with any fixity he had already become a character in other writer’s works, most notably Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’. He also signed his letters to Ginsberg, Kerouac et al. with his nom de plume, as well as using his correspondence as a form of work in progress, peppering his Epistles to the Beats with his trademark riffs and routines. By the time Burroughs was living in Tangier in the late 1950s, his sense of being little more than a cipher, or a fictional construct, had become so plangent that he practised the art of insubstantiality with true zeal, revelling in the moniker ‘El Hombre Invisible’.”

Rather less interesting and actually quite horrible to behold is this recording of Self reading his introduction to the pocket book of St John’s Revelations The Revelation of St. John. Peculiarly, Self chose to read it as a kind of faux-Biblical (shudder-inducing) beat poetry, rather than allow himself the freedom his normally entertaining and agile vocal manner, and it really doesn’t work.

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