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A book that nudges a legendary legacy from the cultural margins toward the mainstream.

A critical analysis that celebrates the transgressive author as rock avatar, cultural visionary, and literary adventurer.

The terms of the title could have been flipped, for this book focuses on what might be called “the cult of William S. Burroughs” and the ways that his influence and legacy have permeated the culture of rock as a whole. Longtime music critic Rae, the director of music licensing for SiriusXM, not only makes the case that the triumvirate of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan were equally and deeply under the influence of the novelist, but also that his influence can be seen across the spectrum of rock, at the opposite poles of progressive and punk. Indeed, he argues that the creative forces of Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, and the Clash all worshipped at Burroughs’ altar. Moreover, Burroughs anticipated the internet, where we are “bombarded with fragmentary words, sounds, and images shot through the digital ether,” his cut-up strategy with words and tape anticipated hip-hop sampling. “Once you start looking,” writes Rae, “Burroughs is everywhere. It’s like a game of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ with a killer soundtrack. But instead of a chipper youth with a striped sweater, we’re spying a wan junkie in an old fedora.” Occasionally, the author overreachs in his analysis, suggesting that Burroughs must have influenced where he may have and that his influence was crucial at pivotal moments when it was perhaps coincidental at best. Would Dylan have become Dylan in a world without Burroughs? Most likely. Yet David Bowie clearly learned much about dissociative artistry and shifting personae from Burroughs (as well as from Dylan), and Kurt Cobain plainly considered himself an acolyte. Maybe more rock stars romanticized his life and addiction than actually read his books, and some tried “to boost their own hipness through association,” but Rae builds a convincing case that Burroughs has been underacknowledged in rock history.

A book that nudges a legendary legacy from the cultural margins toward the mainstream.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1650-4

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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