THE PLACE OF DEAD ROADS by William S. Burroughs

THE PLACE OF DEAD ROADS

KIRKUS REVIEW

It becomes more and more difficult to believe that Burroughs can be seriously read by anyone much over 21, by anyone but a post-adolescent with a self-congratulatory streak of perversity. The Burroughs formula, after all, is by now dog-eared: a young, polymorphous, homosexual hero takes on the Manichean bad guys of the world, vanquishing them through various tricks of time-pleating, cunning, or drug-use--and, in this new installment, through a large-caliber dependence on (and fascination with) guns of all kinds. Here, then, backed by an honorable bunch of outlaws, young Kim Carson, pulp novelist and exquisite trigger-man, blasts away at his foes: the FDA (with their "legislation aimed at outlawing liquor, drugs, gambling, private sexual behavior or the possession of firearms"); the English; the Italian Mafia in America; and dogs--with repeated descriptions of assorted, grisly dog-executions. There are effective sequences now and again: Burroughs allows himself to write lyrically of his St. Louis boyhood in an impressionistic (if also familiar) clutch of passages; and there's an amusing, speculative science-fiction section on "language-shots'--by which a language can be inculcated through the body's cells by injection. The rest, however, is more of the usual nonsense--notched to Burroughs' own anarchic sensibility but ultimately no more convincing than the programmatic novels of an Ayn Rand, a Robert Rimmer. Routines and shticks--blackly comic--were what gave Burroughs his initial distinction; but now they have lost their spleen and have become mere eccentricity, puerility. In sum, then: only for the coterie.
Pub Date: May 6th, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-27865-9
Page count: 306pp
Publisher: Picador
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2001




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