Tag Archives: biography

‘Call Me Burroughs’ pins down the extreme life of William Burroughs

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BOOK REVIEW

‘Call Me Burroughs’ pins down the extreme life of William Burroughs

Barry Miles’ William Burroughs biography ‘Call Me Burroughs’ is an extensive, fascinating biography of the ‘Naked Lunch’ author, including the William Tell shooting death of his wife and his life as countercultural spokesman.

February 05, 2014|By Jim Ruland
  • Cover of the book "Call Me Burroughs" by Barry Miles.
Cover of the book “Call Me Burroughs” by Barry Miles. (Twelve )

William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” stands with Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl” as the seminal texts of the Beat Generation. With its harrowing scenes of junkie depravity, its view of postwar America was the most extreme of all the Beats. Yet few American literary figures have enjoyed more second acts than Burroughs. He was spokesman for the countercultural movement in the ’70s, begrudgingly bore the label Godfather of Punk in the ’80s, and was a spoken-word performer and visual artist until his death in 1997.

Barry Miles’ new biography, “Call Me Burroughs,” begins with the invention of the adding machine in 1888, which brought fortune to the Burroughs family and provided young master Bill a sizable allowance that he enjoyed until he was 50. Nice work if you can get it.

Wealthy or not, the 20th century childhood of a sensitive gay man was rarely easy, but Burroughs was fortunate to have received his awakening early. Alert to their son’s sensitivities, his parents sent him to an experimental school in northern New Mexico where the great outdoors was as much a part of the curriculum as French, Latin and Greek.

It was an all-boys school with an all-male staff that provided Bill with plenty of opportunities to confirm what he already knew about his sexual orientation. Getting caught resulted in immediate expulsion. Some semesters more teachers than students were sent home. The school was shut down when the government bought the land to build the Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplace of the atom bomb. “It seemed to me right, somehow,” Burroughs quipped

#william.s.burroughs#Call Me Burroughs#biography#bool#ana_christy#beatnikhiway.com

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COOL PEOPLE – JOHN STEINBECK AND CANNERY ROW

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CHAPTER 1 CANNERY ROW

John Steinbeck is one of the best-known and most revered American literary figures. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Grapes of Wrath (1939), highlighting the lives of migrant farm workers in the Salinas Valley, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. Seventeen of his works, including Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1955), were made into Hollywood movies.

Best Of Cannery Row

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Monterey County Beginnings

Steinbeck was born about 30 miles from Cannery Row in Salinas, California, on February 27, 1902. He graduated from Salinas High School in 1919 and attended Stanford University, about 90 miles north of the Monterey Peninsula. He married his first wife, Carol Henning, in 1930. They lived in Pacific Grove next to Cannery Row, where much of the material for his books was gathered.

Cannery Row Characters

Steinbeck’s strong personal attachment to Monterey was perhaps inevitable. Living in Pacific Grove, in a house owned by his father, Steinbeck wrote stories spiced with the vibrant tales of cannery workers and roughnecks he knew.

Cannery Row ignited Steinbeck’s imagination and his affection for the colorful mix of people there influenced a number of stories and characters. Tortilla Flat (1935) received the California Commonwealth Club’s Gold Medal for best novel by a California author and marked a turning point in Steinbeck’s career.

Cannery Row (1945), one of Steinbeck’s best and most widely read fictional works, immortalized Cannery Row as a one-of-a-kind neighborhood of fish packing plants, bordellos, and flophouses, and made it the most famous street in America. Sweet Thursday, the sequel to Cannery Row, was published in 1954.

Steinbeck & Ed Ricketts

In 1930 Steinbeck met Ed Ricketts, an accomplished marine biologist who operated the Pacific Biological Laboratory at 800 Cannery Row. Ricketts was the inspiration for the character ‘Doc’ in Cannery Row, although he wasn’t called Doc in real life. Ricketts brought Steinbeck along on his outdoor adventures studying the biological mysteries of the “Great Tidal Pool” near Asilomar Beach, and on a voyage to the Sea of Cortez.

In 1948 Ed Ricketts was hit by a train after his Buick stalled on the tracks near Cannery Row. Today, the location of the train accident is memorialized with a bust of Ricketts at the street corner adjacent to the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa.

Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968, in New York City. His ashes were placed in the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Salinas.

For more information about John Steinbeck’s life and work, visit the National Steinbeck Center.

FROM CANNERY ROW (1982) – FORGOTTEN TREASURE

 Uploaded on May 5, 2010