Rub Out the Words

The Letters of William S. Burroughs 1959-1974

By William S. Burroughs
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780061711428, 480pp.)

Publication Date: February 1, 2012

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Description

William S. Burroughs was one of the twentieth century’s most iconoclastic literary and artistic figures, an inimitable writer whose groundbreaking work in novels such as Junky and Naked Lunch forever altered the shape of American culture. Now, in this long anticipated collection, editor Bill Morgan takes readers through Burroughs’ correspondence from the early sixties through the mid-seventies, in more than three hundred letters that document Burroughs’ steady drift away from the Beat circle and that witness an era in which he became the center of a new coterie of creative people who would establish his reputation as an influential artistic and cultural leader beyond the literary world, toward multimedia.

Written to recipients such as Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, Timothy Leary, and Burroughs’ son, Billy Burroughs Jr., these letters shed new light on the writer’s controversial artistic process and literary experimentation, as well as his complex personal life. Here are letters to new friends in North Africa and Eur-ope—partners in Burroughs’ expatriate life—including Paul Bowles, Ian Sommerville, Michael Portman, Alex Trocchi, and the surrealist artist Brion Gysin, who became a close confidant and whose “cut-up method” would deeply influence Burroughs’ writing.

An intimate glimpse into the private life of an often misunderstood artist, Rub Out the Words is also an unforgettable portrait of one of the twentieth century’s most uncompromising literary personalities.




About the Author

Born in 1914 to a wealthy family in St. Louis, Missouri, William S. Burroughs was one of the most significant people in twentieth-century American popular culture and literature. A novelist, poet, and essayist, he was a primary member of the Beat Generation, influential upon such writers as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Burroughs was the author of eighteen novels and novellas, six collections of short stories, and four collections of essays, among them the 1959 classic Naked Lunch. After living in Mexico City, Tangier, Paris, and London, Burroughs finally returned to America in 1974. He died at his home in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1997.

Bill Morgan is a writer and archival consultant. His previous books include The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation; I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg; and Beat Atlas: A State by State Guide to the Beat Generation in America. He has edited several collections of letters by Beat writers such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Gary Snyder. Morgan has worked as the archivist of many writers, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Oliver Sacks, Michael McClure, Abbie Hoffman, and Arthur Miller. He currently lives with his wife in an old farmhouse at the base of a Vermont mountain.

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