William S. Burroughs’ Last Words

January 27, 2014 | Marina Galperina

Barry Miles’s new biography about a drunken junkie queer transgressive literary giant — Call Me Burroughs: A Life — is getting solid reviews. It appears to be “the authoritative record of Burroughs’s life.” It’s quite detailed, and ace “in terms of breadth, erudition, and sheer narrative combustion.” One detail, often gone amiss, are the last words of then 83-year-old writer.

Be back in no time.

The book organizes Burroughs’s life by his well-lived adopted cities. Here’s a bit about New York:

Times Square…was a haven for the hustlers and thieves, pickpockets and amphetamine-heads, the pimps and junkies who hung out for hours talking over cold cups of coffee or dunking pound cake at Bickford’s twenty-four hour cafeteria.

Wow, well, that’s pretty lackluster. Sort of clean, almost. Maybe Tangier can do better.

Young boys, eyes eaten by trachoma, were led by the hand by the eldest among them…evidence of tuberculosis and syphilis was everywhere. Berber women carried enormous loads of charcoal on their backs, their noses frequently eaten away by disease possibly associated with their trade, followed by their menfolk riding donkeys.

That’s more like it!