Queer Burroughs

Queer Burroughs















Palgrave Macmillan , 2001

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William S. Burroughs is consistently thought of as a novelist who is gay, rather than a gay novelist. This distinction is slight, yet remarkable, since it has meant that Burroughs has been excluded from the gay canon and from the scope of queer theory.
In this intelligent book, Jamie Russell offers the first queer reading of Burroughs’ novels. He explores how the novels of Burroughs can be seen as a sustained attempt to offer a very personal rethinking of gay subjectivity and as an attempt to overturn stereotypes of gay men as effeminate. Yet in his celebration and appropriation of some of the most violent, misogynistic, and effeminophobic elements of heterosexually-identified masculinity, Burroughs’ life and writing suggest a subjectivity that has been deeply troubling to many in the gay community.


“It is no accident that Burroughs’ fiction has attracted some of the most brilliant minds of his generation – Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, among others. Now Jamie Russell joins this select company with the sharpened gem of Queer Burroughs. Instead of gratuitously parading theory, he understands the continuous interplay between life and art.”
John Tytell, author of Naked Angels: Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs and Paradise Outlaws: Remembering the Beats

“An informative and discriminating book,” Choice

“A landmark study,” Davis Schneiderman, Electronic Book Review