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by William Burroughs

Book by Burroughs, William
Download Kentucky Ham epub
ISBN: 0525138501
ISBN13: 978-0525138501
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Literary
Author: William Burroughs
Language: English
Publisher: E. P. Dutton; 1st edition (1973)
Pages: 194 pages
ePUB size: 1259 kb
FB2 size: 1627 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 541
Other Formats: mbr lit mobi lrf

Very interesting book by the son of the guy that wrote Naked Lunch. The son is also a junky and he ends up in a rehap institute. A nice discussion of the life of a junky and a new perspective on the after-effects of the beat generation without being judgmental or the least bit preachy. While it's not high literature, it is very well written and worth a chance.
William Burroughs wasn’t much of a father to Billy. When the kid was 4 he murdered his mother then dumped him off to live with his grandparents. When he was 14 he decided he should live with him and his gay friends in Morocco. Of course they all hit on the kid and got him started doing drugs, mostly various forms of cannabis. They then sent him back home where he branched out into speed and opiates. Being a rich kid he never had to work and he never took school seriously either. His whole life was scoring drugs and staying high all the time. He got busted twice on a trip to New York. That trip was the meat of his first book, “Speed” that he published in 1970 when he was 23 years old. After he returned home he was promptly popped again trying to pass forged prescriptions at one of his local pharmacies. His father’s money and connections got him out of trouble in his first two busts, and again his father came to the rescue this time as well. He was able to avoid prison by agreeing to go to a government rehab facility in Kentucky. There were only two such facilities in the country at the time, the drug epidemic reaching such proportions being a new thing. The other one was in Texas.

His stay in rehab provides the material for this, his second book.

He starts off strong, likely in imitation of his father’s cynical style, but soon settles right back into his journal writing conversational style which characterized his first effort. It’s basically just like listening to the average drug user from that generation. They were all pretty childish, but they were geniuses compared to most of the druggies of today.

He repeatedly pleas with his imaginary readers that drugs should be legalized, but, like the same arguments against gun control, they only work if the population is responsible. All his points sound reasonable, but they are unrealistic when you throw unreasonable people into the mix. Pure, easily available drugs will only result in lots of overdosed drug addicts. Drugs were legal before 1914 but most people were aware of the dangers and were chary to use them unless absolutely necessary. People with less self control, on the other hand, frequently had serious problems. The only up side for them was that they were incredibly inexpensive. Certainly much cheaper than beer. And cocaine was cheaper than tobacco.

Right after Billy finished rehab he left with some friends and went up to Alaska to fish commercially for Salmon and King Crab. This was the first time in his life he did any real work. He seemed to enjoy it but he drank with his friends after work. Anyone who has tried to get clean knows that is doing it wrong. He seemed like a reasonably intelligent person, a little stubborn and spoiled possibly, so one can only assume he didn’t take his recovery all that seriously. Well, he only went into rehab to avoid prison.

Well, beer is a lot cheaper than narcotics these days so he seems to have just switched over to alcohol, possibly to avoid further entanglements with the law because if he got busted again he would definitely do some time this time around. He was 26 when this book came out. He got married then divorced a few years later due to his drinking, and kept drinking so hard that he killed his liver at 29.

Now I always thought there was a big waiting list for livers and you had to have a clean history to be eligible, but remember the Burroughs family is as rich as hell so they fixed him up with one pronto. When he was 33 they found him drunk and half dead in a ditch. Aside from drinking copiously he had stopped taking his anti-rejection meds for his new liver. He died less than a day later.

If you are like me and have had a relatively hard life I suppose it is natural to be jealous of someone like Billy Burroughs, but for all his money he seemed to lack character. Possibly his father shooting his mother in the head when he was on the room at the age of 4 started him off on a bad footing.

Anyway, despite all that wealth he seemed to live a short sad life. With that money and his father’s fame he could have done great things and made a name for himself, distinguishing himself from his father by his own achievements. The only reason hew was able to publish two books (he was working on a 3rd that he never finished called, “Prakriti Junction”) was obviously due to his father’s influence and connections. I could tell he wrote them just to fulfill his contractual obligations with his publisher. Of course this kind of makes me mad. I’ve worked hard to make good art and I’ve never been paid enough to cover my basic expenses. I just can’t understand why he didn’t put his heart and soul into his writing given he was granted a world wide audience. I guess it’s true that we never value that which comes to us too easily.