Originally written in 1952 but not published till 1985, Queer is an enigma. Both an unflinching autobiographical self-portrait and a coruscatingly political novel, it is both Burroughs’s only realist love story and a montage of comic-grotesque fantasies that paved the way for his masterpiece, Naked Lunch. Set in Mexico City during the early fifties, Queer follows William Lee, the protagonist of Burroughs’s debut novel Junky, a man afflicted with acute heroin withdrawal and romantic yearnings for Eugene Allerton. As Lee breaks down over the course of his hopeless pursuit of desire from bar to bar in the American expatriate scene, the trademark Burroughsian voice emerges, a maniacal mix of self-lacerating humor and the ugly American at his ugliest. Now reissued on the seventieth anniversary of the year of its writing, this edition of Queer features a contextualizing introduction by the eminent Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris.
Praise for William S. Burroughs:
“A creator of grim fairy tales for adults, Burroughs spoke to our nightmare fears and, still worse, to our nightmare longings . . . More than any other postwar wordsmith, he bridged generations; popularity in the youth culture is greater now than during the heady days of the Beats.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Of all the Beat Generation writers, William S. Burroughs was the most dangerous . . . He was anarchy’s double agent, an implacable enemy of conformity and of all agencies of control-from government to opiates.”—Rolling Stone
“Burroughs’s voice is hard, derisive, inventive, free, funny, serious, poetic, indelibly American.”—Joan Didion
“The most important writer to emerge since World War II . . . For his sheer visionary power, and for his humor, I admire Burroughs more than any living writer, and most of those who are dead.”—J. G. Ballard
“Burroughs seems to revel in a new medium . . . A medium totally fantastic, spaceless, timeless, in which the normal sentence is fractured, the cosmic tries to push its way through the bawdry, and the author shakes the reader as a dog shakes a rat.”—Anthony Burgess