Review: The Wild Boys by William S. Burroughs

There is no way to start a review for The Wild Boys other than to say, William S. Burroughs was a strange, strange man. Not since Naked Lunch have I been so morbidly entertained by a novel. I’m typically put off by writers who practice “automatic writing” but Burroughs is, once again, a proven master. As a reader of Dennis Cooper and other sub(counter)culture/subversive literature, I was not entirely shocked by the subject matter – especially considering the source; however, Burroughs has an odd, noble type of class or style to his writing, which makes even this most disturbing of material artful and intriguing. I did wonder, at times, about the point of the novel – what was Burroughs trying to say, other than young boys are sinfully delicious? Like Naked Lunch, though, the underlying theme is revolution and independence. Burroughs was obsessed with overthrowing oppressive, McCarthyistic mentality. It is obviously Burroughs’s intent to, almost counter-productively, given the violent, descriptive language and descriptions, to imply that a world without women and without law is more desirable than the world in which we live. Of course, Burroughs wasn’t being entirely literal, and it is often the modus operandi of radical authors and satirists to swing as far to the extreme as possible in order to demonstrate their point, still, Burroughs does have a point – and, ultimately, it comes across loud and queer; pardon me, make that loud and “clear.” This is only the second Burroughs novel I have experienced, but it will certainly not be the last.

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