Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Billy Burroughs Jr. Speed/Kentucky Ham

What do you do when you are the son of one of the most iconic, infuential writers of the 20the century? You develop a drug habit while your father holes up in exotic locales, while your mother rots in her grave, while your grandparents slowly lose their minds, while you search for a place that seems like home. The son of William Burroughs was a fucking genius. For all his father's accolades the kid may have ended up a better writer had he lived long enough.

Addiction's a funny thing, those of us who've been up close and personal with it know that it's a short walk from one won't hurt to a major habit. I had a friend of mine once tell me he'd never die sticking needles in his arm and he died sticking needles in his arm. A fine line. We walk carefully and we don't look over the edge cuz we don't want to know what's down there. Billy Burroughs two short novels chart those waters. Speed is a straight up memoir basically of what it's like to be a speed freak. What i really admire about Billy though is that he doesn't discrimate in his drug use. Opiates, speed, coke, weed, the occasional drinking binge, he covers all the bases.

Kentucky Ham is the, to coin a phrase, heartbreaking work of staggering genius, about a kid trying to kick, trying to get his life back together, but knowing all along that once he's out of the various programs sooner or later he's gonna go out and score. If for no other reason than the fact that he can. You can't help but read this and wonder how Big Bill felt and in the epilogue he writes hints of his failures as a father but never really has the balls to say it. He knows his son was a talented writer in his own right. He's proud and sad. Maybe he realized to late that we would of really like to know this kid. Billy himself is funny, insightful, thoughtful, compassionate, and seems to be a pretty fucking good guy. He knows he's a fuck-up and his fellow fuck-ups apprectiate his candor, no excuses, no bullshit, just this is how i am. He makes some compelling arguements towards the end of Kentucky Ham but for those of you out there who read this you can read the book yourself. I highly recommend it.

William S. Burroughs Jr. died at the age of 33 of liver failure.

1 comment:

Gulfboot Johnson said...

And his granpappy invented the adding machine.