Book #50: The Wild Boys (1969)

61jbKwKMp9L._SY300_author: William S. Burroughs
language: English
length: 346 minutes (5 hours 46 minutes)
finished listening on: 6 Feb 2014

This book was, I think, one of my suggestions on the audiobook site I use. I’ve never actually read any of the beat poets before, so I was interested to find out what their writing is like. Burroughs’ work seemed as good a place as any to start – besides, I think the poetry might be too insufferable for me.

Burroughs, evidently, is famous for an experimental style called the “cut-up technique”, which involves him writing two or three coherent tales and cutting up each page and stitching it all back together in a different order. It was only after I found this out that I started to understand why it was so incoherent in places. Somehow I feel this is probably not as successful in audio form, as with a printed book I would have presumably been able to reread something a few times to get a better sense of how the different parts of the text fit together and would have been able to reread it out of order for a different story.

As it is, the words being often odd or confusing, and the text incoherent for most of the time, it took me a while to get into it, but after that I was hooked, because despite being incoherent, it’s very beautiful and not to mention erotic prose. Plus, compared to some of the other audiobooks I’ve listened to recently, it’s not nearly as long.

From what I can discern of the plot, the book is generally about teenage boys having sex with each other and generally running riot and rebelling against heterosexual society. The Wild Boys of the title are described mainly in one of the most coherent chapters towards the end, as a group of boys in Morocco who discover how to birth children without the influence of women, which reminds me heavily of Kronar in the comic Oglaf, and roam around the deserts and cities causing havoc.

The whole thing seems to be pure fantasy, and it’s interesting overall for me to practically see inside the mind of the author and his fantasies. I’m probably still going to stick to narrative fiction in general, though: while this is interesting, I have to have a completely different mindset while listening to/reading/watching this kind of thing, requiring me to let the whole thing wash over me and later see if it fits into some kind of coherency rather than it obviously doing so already. But if I do that, it’s all too easy to let it blend into the background too much, and I do get this problem where I hear them talking about one thing and wonder how we reached that point, and there’s the other problem of returning to conventional narratives and having to reset my brain to a different mode of thinking.

But overall it’s a slightly unexpected positive recommendation from me. But before I forget, it is also very erotic and at times it’s practically gay porn, so it also comes with a bit of a warning for those not expecting it…

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One Response to Book #50: The Wild Boys (1969)

  1. Pingback: Book #106: On the Road (1957) | reuoq

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