Feb 03 2012

Naked Tea: The Burroughs Bits (An Excerpt)

""){ ?> By R.U. Sirius/Philip Willey



Although small in size and length, Naked Tea: The Burroughs Bits is a book full of mostly fictionalized interactions (plus some strikingly vivid visual collages by Lyle Shultz) with the Beat Godfather that capture his spirit and — to some extent — his style.  Join Philip Willey as he joins Burroughs in his imagination in Tangiers and at a hippie rock festival in London in the late ’60s — among other locations — and gets the corrosive Burroughs-eye lowdown on drugs, sex, the word virus and the human condition.

Presented here, an excerpt from Naked Tea by Philip Willey

At this point I begin to wonder. Is WSB’s writing more than a pastiche of drug-induced prose poems, essays, routines, dramatic fragments and therapeutic ramblings? I don’t think so. But neither is much of Swift, Celine, Miller, Jarry or Genet, even Joyce. Just because it’s plotless doesn’t make it worthless. Changes in tense, person, perspective and time may make it anarchic by most literary standards but Burroughs would be the first to agree. He wants it to be surreal and picaresque. Non-linear. That is how he sees the world. He is dealing with some endless trauma. He is living a nightmare and writing is his salvation.

And at the core of it all a complex system of drug-taking and self-analysis designed to suppress and/or control his own libido. He lives under a dark cloud, which is only dissipated by deadpan humour. Sex and drugs are ways of escape… altered states are a way, he hopes, out of his endless solitary nightmare. Out of Time and into Space. Writing affords some relief from the gnawing emptiness and self-hatred. But it’s love or junk… you can’t have both. Keep this up and I’ll soon have enough notes for a full-length review. I help myself to a scone and butter it slowly.

‘Can you tell me about ‘Junky’?’ I ask. ‘How it came to be written.’

‘Wrote it in Mexico City. It’s autobiographical I guess with a few literary embellishments. It was written for the drugstore market. Junk was a hot topic at the time. It was called Junk originally but Ace Books changed it. They changed a lot of things. Added all kinds of disclaimers. To cover themselves I guess. Carl Solomon worked at Ace as an editor. It was his uncle’s business. Poor guy nearly had a nervous breakdown. It’s an easy read and I learned a few things. Ginsberg tried it with ‘Queer’ but it didn’t quite come off. Nobody would touch it. Too sensational they said.”