This American Life: #546: Burroughs 101
February 3, 2015 9:48 AM - Subscribe

This American Life host Ira Glass was never into William Burroughs. Didn't get why people love his writing so much. Then he heard this radio story that changed all that, partly because it wasn't very reverential about Burroughs. For Burroughs 101st birthday, we hear that story.

This is a "rebroadcast" of a BBC-4 program about Burrough from last year, narrated by Iggy Pop. It's different than the usual TAL, but still a fascinating and entertaining presentation.

Prologue: The Set-Up
Act One: Burroughs, Part One - Background
Act Two: Burroughs, Part Two - Cut Up

TAL Show Notes
posted by jazon (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yeah, that was so different from a usual TAL show. Dang. It was rather funny on that level.

GREAT Torey Mallatia shoutout this time.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:29 PM on February 3, 2015

I don't say this often, but... I really appreciated Will Self's contribution.
posted by dumdidumdum at 1:13 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

This was amazing and totally immersive; and Iggy Pop a great narrator.

I wish that they hadn't cut in halfway through (ironically, right at the introduction of the cut-ups) for the "This American Life is supported by..." promo; that was a jarring thing that somewhat broke the spell for me.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:32 PM on February 4, 2015

I can totally get how this was a remarkably well-made documentary, but I started the episode feeling the way Ira Glass said he always has about Burroughs, and by the time I turned it off in irritation half-way through, I still felt the exact same way.

I love Junky and Queer. They are both really well-written books that serve as excellent cultural critiques. Everything else about Burroughs just sucks and I in my opinion, this documentary glorified his drug use and violence as much as everything else about him has. John Waters rightly pointed out the only appealing thing about Naked Lunch: it's success was due largely (solely?) to it's controversy.

It was when they got to the wacky anecdote about how he murdered his wife that I was done. I have never heard this story related as anything besides a wacky anecdote. I mean sure, we get that he is sad about it. But WTF? He continued to sleep with a gun for the rest of his life. I find his mysogony and fetishization of violence and addiction fucking boring. I didn't see how this piece handled him in any kind of fresh way.
posted by latkes at 5:38 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

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