Hack Up Your Text

William S. Burroughs reading

Photo of william s. burroughs by duluoz cats via flickr and licensed under CC 2.0

Last Thursday I listened to a This American Life podcast that featured an audio documentary about William Burroughs. I was amazed that somebody who was addicted to drugs for most of his life had such a long and productive literary career. I’ll admit right now that I am not that familiar with Beat literature except for some of the poetry, such as Howl and A Coney Island of the Mind. So, although I’ve heard of Naked Lunch, I haven’t read it, nor any other of Burroughs’ novels. Even without reading Burroughs’ work, I’d say the documentary is worth a listen if you want to know more about him or about the Beat writers.

Among other things, the documentary described the cut-up technique, which Burroughs learned from Brion Gysin, a visual artist.

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